Saying he sympathizes with the frustration of his constituents, B.C. Southern Interior MP Alex Atamanenko believes things are finally moving ahead in the park process.
“This has been dragging on for quite a while, but I guess in order for it to be successful it has to be done right,” said Atamanenko, who feels a national park in the region is far from a done deal. “It’s also my hope that ultimately the people who live in the area would be able to have some kind of say in the matter.”
Through his ongoing talks with Parks Canada officials, the NDP member believes the entire process got off on the wrong foot from the start, and efforts are underway to correct the problems of the past.
He noted this was especially true when it came to dealings with the Aboriginal people of the Okanagan.
“One of the main stumbling blocks is that there wasn’t due diligence and proper procedure wasn’t followed and the First Nations came out against the park,” said Atamanenko. “I got the impression that they (Parks Canada) realized that they didn’t quite do things right — the approach wasn’t the right one — and now have apparently renewed dialogue.”
Being up front with the ranching community and regaining their trust are the two other major components in turning the process around, according to the MP.
“I maintain in principal the idea of a national park is a good idea. However, for it to be successful it has to have the support of people in the immediate area, and that’s our stumbling block right now and there has to be some homework done,” he said.
The MP is also hoping Parks Canada officials will have a change in heart after rejecting his suggestion earlier this year they have an informal meeting with some park opponents.