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Kootenays resort developer and protesters clash over possible ice road

A small group of environmentalists are watching over a glacier in southeastern British Columbia, saying they need to be there to ensure that it doesn't get damaged by the development of a controversial new ski resort.

"We are camped out there … and we'd like to continue until the snow flies," said K. Linda Kivi, one of a group opposed to the building of Jumbo Glacier resort.

The $450-million resort was approved by the provincial government last year, after years of bitter debate, but Ms. Kivi, a writer and publisher, said many people in the Kootenays are still hoping the resort won't go ahead.

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And in the meantime a small number of them are camping out along an access road where they can keep a close watch on machinery working around the toe of Farnham glacier, which is one of four glaciers near Jumbo Mountain.

Ms. Kivi said Glacier Resorts Ltd. got approval to develop a resort, but not to build an ice road onto Farnham glacier and that's what the protesters fear may happen.

"They are not allowed to alter the glacier in any way, except to rope off areas of danger, or build passages over open crevasses," said Ms. Kivi.

She said the camp was established on July 24 after reports that there was an excavator at the base of Farnham glacier.

The group has established a "checkpoint" on the road, where they hand out informational material.

But Ms. Kivi denied that protesters have blockaded the road.

An application brought by Glacier Resorts Ltd. for an interlocutory injunction that would have restrained members of the group from blocking vehicle access was adjourned in the Supreme Court of B.C., Monday.

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At the same time, an application by the defendants to cross-examine Grant Costello, senior vice-president of Glacier Resorts Ltd., was also adjourned.

Greg Tucker, lawyer for Glacier Resorts, said the company agreed to the adjournment because a van that had been blocking the road had been moved and work crews had been allowed to go through.

"If the blockade reappears, we'll be back in court," he said.

Jason Gratl, lawyer for the protesters, said his clients rejected allegations that they had blocked the road and in turn raised questions about the legality of Glacier Resorts building a road on the glacier to facilitate skiing that uses machines known as snowcats.

"Glacier Resorts is not entitled to engage in cat skiing or cut a snow road into the glacier. They are prevented from doing so by the terms of their environmental assessment certificate," said Mr. Gratl. "That's the key issue in relation to which we wanted to cross-examine Mr. Costello."

He said his clients argue that building a road onto Farnham would "lead to the premature erosion of the glacier."

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Mr. Costello could not be reached for comment.

Greg Deck, who was appointed by the province as the mayor of Jumbo Mountain Resort Municipality (a town that has yet to be built) said it is frustrating to see protesters slowing up work on the project.

He said the Jumbo project went through a rigorous approval process that took decades to complete and the proponents should now be allowed to get on with the job.

The plan calls for a village that on completion would handle up to 3,000 visitors a day, with 23 ski lifts.

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About the Author
National correspondent

Mark Hume is a National Correspondent for The Globe and Mail, based in Vancouver, writing news and feature stories on a daily basis about his home province of British Columbia. His weekly column, which often challenges the orthodoxy on environmental issues, appears every Monday. More

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