From the Columbia Valley Pioneer,
Three provincial ministers visited the Upper Columbia Valley last week, attending a BC Liberal party event followed by a helicopter tour to the Jumbo area.
The three ministers — Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Coralee Oakes and Minister of Energy and Mines (and Kootenay-East MLA) Bill Bennett — took part in a private BC Liberal breakfast fundraiser at Copper Point Resort on Thursday, June 26th after Ms. Oakes met with Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality council. Bighorn helicopters provided the transportation to and from Jumbo Valley for the ministers and some of their staff.
“It wasn’t the main purpose for them to come out here, but while Mr. Stone is here he wanted to look at the road (up Jumbo Creek) that the Ministry of Transport is legally responsible for,” Mr. Bennett told The Pioneer, adding that responsibility for the road had transferred from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations to the Ministry of Transport some years ago.
“The proponent needs improved access,” said Mr. Bennett, adding he hopes potential road improvements will see the Jumbo Glacier Resort project move forward soon. “The public will also be able to access the valley.”
The road into the Jumbo Valley is currently blocked by avalanche debris, according to Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure public affairs officer Daisy Brooke.
“With this in mind, ministry staff and the minister viewed the proposed road location by helicopter as it was the only practical way to access the location,” said Ms. Brooke. “Helicopter flights such as this are funded within the ministry’s annual operating budget and are part of the routine work undertaken by staff.”
From the ministry’s perspective, Jumbo Glacier Resort is an important project for economic development in the Invermere area, said Ms. Brooke.
“Ministry staff are working with the proponent to finalize the design requirements for the access road so that construction will be able to proceed,” she said.
The Pioneer attempted to contact Ministry of Transportation Rocky Mountain District operations manager Gordon Chudleigh for more details on construction plans this summer for the Jumbo Creek road, but was unable to get comment prior to press deadline.
Jumbo mayor Greg Deck described Jumbo council’s meeting with Ms. Oakes as brief.
“Council wanted to take advantage of the presence in the valley of the minister responsible for local governments to update her on the work of the Jumbo municipal council,” said Mr. Deck. “We appreciated a chance to talk to her in person about our progress on the Official Community Plan specifically. We also wanted to thank her for taking the time to visit the proposed townsite and ski areas within the municipality. Our understanding from those who were on the tour with her is that the minister shares our aspirations for Jumbo Glacier Resort to make an important contribution to the province’s tourism assets.”
Invermere mayor Gerry Taft expressed disappointment that the ministers were unable to meet any local councillors while here.
“Normally when ministers come to any area, they make time to meet with local councillors and hear about what’s going on in the area,” said Mr. Taft. “(The ministers’ trip) seems like a pretty narrow focus for a visit to the area. There are a lot of other important issues we could have talked to them about.”
Mr. Taft said he called event organizer and Columbia River-Revelstoke Liberal riding association president Grant Costello and asked about purchasing a ticket to the fundraiser, but was advised by Mr. Costello that it would not be appropriate.
“It was a riding event, put on by the Columbia-River Revelstoke riding association and we’re B.C. Liberals, it’s a private party event,” said Mr. Costello, on why Mr. Taft, who is not a Liberal (or a member of any other political party), could not attend.
To read the full article by Steve Hubrecht go to the link above.