A private ski lodge near Nelson has had its land-use tenure terminated by the forestry ministry. But the owner is refusing to comply due to what he alleges is a failure of the justice system in an unrelated court case.
Ymir Backcountry Lodge, owned by Trevor Holsworth, is in an area east of Highway 6 between Nelson and Ymir. Holsworth was ordered to vacate the land earlier this month by the Ministry of Forests.
A ministry spokesperson declined to say why the tenure had been terminated because the business is now being investigated by the ministry’s Compliance and Enforcement Branch, which will ensure the lodge is not operating and has fulfilled its contractual obligations.
B.C. land tenure agreements can be terminated for several reasons including unpaid fees or taxes, environmental risk and contamination of land, or a failure to meet agreed upon conditions.
Interior Health said the tenure was terminated before it could carry out an on-site assessment.
The Regional District of Central Kootenay’s building manager Chris Gainham said fines were issued to the lodge in February 2022 along with a Stop Work Order for construction without a valid building permit, as well as a Do Not Occupy order for lack of an occupancy permit.
Gainham said in an email the regional district had previously been working with Holsworth on a building permit application.
“Unfortunately, and despite our best efforts, meaningful communication from the owner ceased and a permit could not be issued.”
When contacted by the Nelson Star, Holsworth said there is nothing wrong with the building. Instead, he alleged the tenure was terminated as a reprisal by the provincial government for his criticisms of the legal system.
“They are attempting to intimidate me and destroy my livelihood,” he said.
Holsworth said he unfairly lost a civil case against a lawyer as well as a subsequent appeal. He believes criticism of the legal system he sent to federal justice minister Arif Virani is connected to the lodge being shut down.
Until he gets action with his lawsuit, Holsworth said he won’t be working with the forestry ministry.
“They’re basically saying, ‘look, you haven’t paid your fees’ and stuff like that, and I’m saying, ‘well, you guys aren’t complying with the law. And when you comply with the law, then the situation will be resolved.’”
He also acknowledged he has no proof the two matters are connected.
The Ymir Backcountry Lodge website meanwhile remains active. It advertises eight private rooms available for up to 20 people and access to alpine bowl and tree skiing.
Holsworth declined to say whether or not the lodge will be open to guests this winter.