Detailed environmental impact assessment needs to be done on Zincton: Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and the Sinixt Confederacy

Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
February 11th, 2024

A full environmental impact assessment of the proposed Zincton all-season resort is being called for by the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and the Sinixt Confederacy.

Currently before the Mountain Resorts Branch of the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, the back country ski development proposed for the Selkirk Mountains in the Slocan Valley needs a deeper view, said Jarred-Michael Erickson, chairman of the Confederated Tribes.

“This proposed project is going to be built on high quality wildlife habitat within a critical wildlife corridor between two major parks,” he said in a Feb. 8 letter to the Province. “Our preliminary internal review has raised a number of concerns, including potential impacts to blue-listed species such as wolverine and grizzly bear.”

Zincton was to be situated in the London Ridge area between New Denver and Kaslo, in the heart of Sinixt traditional territory.

Erickson said the environmental overview report from Zincton developer David Harley did not consider the cumulative impacts of both the controlled recreation area and the development of the private property owned by Harley.

His view was supported by a Jan. 28, 2022 article written on the West Kootenay EcoSociety website entitled Misconceptions about Zincton All-Seasons Resort, arguing that the entire proposed development — including the village and the recreation area — would disrupt a wildlife corridor between two provincial parks.

The area had been petitioned to the province for some time as a protected place, the article stated.

“This corridor is one of the best all-season habitats for grizzly, wolverine, mountain goats and western toads and other critically endangered species in the region which the government has spent years and taxpayer dollars to research how to protect,” the article stated.

Other side of the mountain

But only around five per cent of the wildlife corridor is within the proposed tenure, contended Harley in 2021.

“To support this effort, we will establish a summer season 10,000-acre wildlife corridor protection zone,” he said. working with existing operators to move away from existing heli-ski and snowcat tenures to human-powered backcountry tenure.

Erickson said it was unclear how the establishment of a commercial summer closure area (CSCA) would be of benefit to wildlife.

“In light of the fact that this is a proposed all-season resort, we have concerns that there will still be a significant increase in the human traffic in the controlled recreation area year round, even with the implementation of a CSCA,” he said.

With the full impacts of the project not fully developed, Erickson called on the Province to undertake the detailed environmental impact assessment of the project, with the full involvement of the Sinixt.

Further afield

Zincton was expected to phase out pre-existing alpine mountain bike trails, supporting the establishment of low elevation rail trails and wagon roads for biking.

The proposal is to operate electric vehicle buses between Kaslo, Zincton and New Denver, and partner with Silversmith Power and Light in Sandon, supporting a federally “certified green” local electricity producer.

“Zincton will be ‘climate neutral’ starting opening day and every day after,” said Harley.

Included in the formal proposal is a science-based analysis and conclusions in the environmental overview. It was also proposed that the independent, not-for-profit Zincton Institute be established to study the effects of restoring, remediating and regenerating the local ecology.

“Zincton Institute also envisions fostering inclusive music, art and literature from the point of view of an immersive, mountain community experience,” said Harley.

It will also work with the One per cent for the Planet environmental organization and partner to study, plan and execute the remediation and restoration of the contaminated Retallack Mining District.

A proposal glimpse

Zincton — located in the Goat Pass region in the Slocan Valley — is proposed to be an inclusive lift-assisted ski area with backcountry skiing, with what will be the lowest density ski area in the world if it comes to pass.

The Zincton village is located on private land, not on the tenured land that is part of the proposal.

Zincton village will occupy about 70 acres of the private parcel of land, with the lift company only running lifts, safety, roads and reservations.

Several amenities are expected to crop up in the village, with some commercial buildings with residences above. People employed by the mountain could live in on-hill residences.

The gondola up to the village will be no charge for residents and all visitors year-round, with on-hill staff residence accommodation helping reduce housing pressure on nearby communities.

This post was syndicated from https://thenelsondaily.com
Categories: General