Environmentalists and the B.C. NDP are questioning the motives behind a government bill signed Monday night that looks set to clear the way for the controversial Jumbo Glacier Resort — and others like it — to avoid any further costly, environmental reviews.
The order exempts prospective year-round ski resorts in B.C. from the Environmental Assessment process completely, something that B.C. NDP environment critic, Spencer Chandra Herbert says ensures Jumbo Glacier Resort's smooth passage when its current EA certificate expires in October.
"It's outrageous for the B.C. Liberals to disregard the public interest and the environment in this heavy-handed and undemocratic way," he said.
The resort's current certificate, issued in 2004, contained almost 200 conditions that had to be completed before construction could begin.
“It is unclear at this point whether the government plans to ignore these 195 legally-binding conditions that were the result of the Environmental Assessment process that already took place”, Robyn Duncan from environmentalist organization Wildsight said in a statement.
Squamish resort also affected?
Questions are also being raised about how the move will affect the $5-billion resort proposed for the Garibaldi Highlands in Squamish.
Environment Minister Mary Polack — who signed the order — says the move will not affect either project.
She said the decision was made in order to eliminate duplication created by a process operated by the Ministry of Forests and Lands that is similar to the Environmental Assessment process.