LETTERS: Many benefits to national park
It’s time for the province to respect all parties regarding the creation of a national park.
Since 2010, the province has acknowledged the results of an eight-year feasibility study that showed a national park is feasible, and have stated they need support from regional districts and municipalities, tourism, business, and First Nations in order to transfer land (i.e. the Grasslands Protected Areas) to the federal government to be part of a national park.
These governing bodies have expressed support through formal resolutions.
Most of the resolutions have two parts, to encourage the province to return to discussions with the federal government, and to consult them throughout the process.
Why is this important?
They want the province to negotiate a national park that allows cattle grazing and flight training, as promised. And they want to be consulted so that they can help develop a tourism-community benefit package, which the province can negotiate when they re-engage in the process with Canada. These benefits could be substantial.
When the Rouge National Park was established in Ottawa in 2012, Canada allocated $140 million dollars to be spent over ten years to establish the park and $7.6 million per year to operate the park.
Compare this with what the province is currently providing in the existing South Okanagan Grassland Protected Areas — one part-time summer staff person and a budget of less than $40,000 per year. When a national park is established, additional community benefits can be negotiated by the province, communities and sectors. It is time for the province to respect the requests, made formally, by the community leaders, duly elected officials, and governing bodies that represent regional districts, municipalities, tourism, business, and First Nations rather than the people who oppose any discussion of the solutions and opportunities at all.