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British Columbia Controversial ski resort has to start over, B.C. minister says

Canadian national ski team training on Farnham Glacier in late July. Farnham Glacier is one of the four glaciers that would be lift accessible for year-round skiing at Jumbo Glacier Resort. The B.C. government has now pulled the resort's environmental approval due to a lack of work on the project.

Oberto Oberti Architecture and Urban Design Inc.

Developers of a controversial billion-dollar ski resort that has been decades in the making will have "to start from scratch," British Columbia's Environment Minister said.

The provincial government announced Thursday that the environmental assessment certificate for Jumbo Glacier Resort had expired.

The resort, which has been repeatedly challenged in court by First Nations and environmental groups, received its first environmental certificate in 2004.

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The certificate was extended in 2009, with an expiry date of Oct. 12, 2014, but the extension document stated all approved projects must be "substantially started" under provincial law within the time limit set out, something that Environment Minister Mary Polak said just hasn't happened.

"In making my decision, I had focused on the physical activities that had taken place at the project site," Ms. Polak said. "While it is clear that some construction has started, I was not convinced that the physical activity undertaken as of Oct. 12, 2014, meets the threshold of a substantially started project."

Resort spokesman Tommaso Oberti, vice-president of the Pheidias Group, said in an e-mailed statement that directors are reviewing the minister's decision but can take a number of courses of action.

"Jumbo Glacier Resort would be the premier ski destination on the continent, and the recent poor winter showed us why, in the age of global warming, new ski resorts should be built at appropriate elevations and in the right climate zones," he said.

A document listing Ms. Polak's reasons stated the developers had undertaken nine projects on the site as of Oct. 12, 2014.

They included a slab and foundation preparations on the day lodge, a slab on the service building, foundation anchors for the quad chairlift and temporary and permanent bridges on a forest service road.

Ms. Polak said B.C. ministries responsible for communities, forests, lands and natural resources will now have to analyze their next step.

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Joe Foy, of the environmental group Wilderness Committee, called the decision "great news," and said the government must now grant the area protected status so another proposal doesn't endanger wildlife.

"We knew this project was already on thin ice," he said.

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