Resort municipalities need elections, RDCK say

The Regional District of Central Kootenay takes a dim view of mountain resort municipalities without residents.

The Regional District of Central Kootenay takes a dim view of legislation introduced this month that will allow for the creation of mountain resort municipalities without residents.

The board passed a motion last week opposing such bodies, which would have appointed councils directed by a resort developer, calling them “contrary to the principles of democratic government.”

The motion didn’t name Jumbo Glacier Resort, but that was the impetus behind it.

East Shore director Garry Jackman said a developer could potentially prevent an area from gaining a permanent population, either by bringing in workers on short-term contracts and putting them up in dormitories, or by selling timeshares so that no one lives at the resort long enough to qualify as a resident.

“We’re setting up a model where a developer could control the area in perpetuity,” he said.

Chair John Kettle also called the East Kootenay regional district’s 2009 decision to pass on decision-making power for Jumbo to the provincial government “truly unfortunate.”

(One director, Gerry Wilkie, will try to convince his board to reverse that vote on June 8.)

The RDCK motion follows a similar one adopted by Invermere, the closest municipality to the proposed Jumbo resort. The legislation has also been slammed by the NDP.

“A municipality’s function is to provide a governance structure for its residents,” said Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald. “Changing the rules so that a municipality can be created out of thin air makes a mockery of democratic principles.”

But East Kootenay Liberal MLA Bill Bennett responds that the changes are necessary for the Jumbo project to go ahead.