Both Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett and Forests Minister Steve Thomson expressed a pervading sense of relief that a Jumbo decision had finally been made.
"If the people who live closer to the project feel half as relieved as I feel, to have a decision finally, regardless of what side of the controversy they're on - supporters, opponents - they've got to be relieved to have some certainty," Bennett said in an interview with the Townsman later Tuesday.
After 21 years, on Tuesday the B.C. government gave approval for the resort proposal near Invermere. With the government decision, the ball is now in the proponent's court.
"It's government's job to have a legal process that's reliable, that people can depend on," Bennett said. "They enter into it, they do what the process requires of them. If they do that they should get either a yes or a no.
"Once they get a yes, as they did in this case, the burden shifts over to the proponent, and it becomes the proponent's job to go out, raise the money and get on with it."
Bennett added that there would be lots of conjecture as to how the project proceeded. "I know the site is very special - there's not another site in North America like this, so on that basis it might be somewhat more likely (the proponent will) raise the funds needed.
"On the other hand, I know it's a very tough business right now; there's not a lot of venture capital around these days. But it's up to (the proponent), he'll have to show whether he can do it or not."
As for the land use and zoning issues, Bennett said there are three choices the province has.
The matter could be turned over to the Regional District of East Kootenay. However, in 2009, the RDEK gave over responsibility for Jumbo's land use issues to the province.
The resort could also apply for a boundary extension to have the resort added to one of the existing municipalities, either Radium or Invermere.
The third option is to create a mountain resort municipality. Bennett said this is the option the government will likely pursue.
"I think we're past the point where local government has any options," Bennett said. "This is a provincially significant project on Crown land, a number of kilometres away from the nearest municipality. The Regional District has said 'We don't want to deal with the land use issues,' so the province has accepted that, and the province will deal with it by creating a mountain resort municipality."
The project is going ahead in the face of opposition from various groups, not least the Ktunaxa First Nation. The Ktunaxa declared the resort area a spiritually significant site in 2009. There has been extensive consultation with the Ktunaxa and Shuswap Indian Band based in Invermere on the proposal, and the B.C. government's legal advice is that the spiritual declaration does not represent a valid territorial claim, Thomson said during the press conference.
"Government has, I think, bent over backwards to take the time necessary to listen carefully, to understand, to be respectful," Bennett said later Tuesday. "This is in no way a gesture of disrespect to the Ktunaxa people, it's not intended that way, I don't believe that's what it is.
"However, it's up to the Ktunaxa to decide how they want to receive the news."
Bennett said the Ktunaxa's legal rights under the circumstances would be to challenge the government's decision to sign the master development agreement.