Boundary-Similkameen MLA Linda Larson said she takes issues with a national park reserve in the South Okanagan-Similkameen under the federal government control. (Robin Grant - Western News)

Opposition to Parks Canada managing park reserve in South Okanagan-Similkameen continues

Okanagan Similkameen Parks Society says it rejects proposal completely

A national park reserve in the South Okanagan-Similkameen was praised by federal, provincial and First Nations leaders on Tuesday as a way to protect endangered species, ecosystem and sacred Indigenous sites.

But moving ahead with the controversial national park that would cover roughly 300 square kilometres still isn’t supported by a large percentage of people in the region, according to Boundary-Similkameen MLA Linda Larson, who said she thinks the park proposal only has about 50 per cent of support, which includes Indigenous people.

“It doesn’t sit well,” she said. Larson said she isn’t opposed to conservation and protecting sacred sites but takes issue with the federal government stepping in to do it.

READ MORE: National park reserve gets the go ahead

“I’ve always felt from day one that it did not have to be federal, that the province has more than enough tools to do more of the conservation and preservation and to certainly partner with the First Nations to work out management agreements with them,” she said.

“This particular area is populated. This is not a wilderness. This is smack dab in the middle of the hottest tourist area in B.C. It is already swarming with people and when they finish doing all of their studies, they said there might be another 2,000 tourists. Well, we can probably handle that but if you want to protect the land, you don’t normally bring in more people.”

Director of the South Okanagan Similkameen Preservation Society (SOSPS) Lionel Trudel said the society rejects the federal government’s concept of a national park completely. He said according to the society’s numbers, Parks Canada’s proposal is only supported by 10 to 15 per cent.

“We think that Parks Canada is a failed agency and an old modelling of environmental protection that is outdated and needs to be removed from the environmental landscape. Their practices and bureaucracy has lead to deficit and debt within the Canadian government that is monumental. They are on the hook right now for $9.5 billion in upgrades and maintenance.”

He said those numbers are from a 2018 study conducted New Zealand-based Opus International Consultants, which reviewed 46 national parks, 171 historic sites and buildings and various bridges. It concluded that 40 per cent of Parks Canada’s assets are in poor or very poor condition, he said.

READ MORE: Parks Canada releases public consultation results on proposed park in South Okanagan-Similkameen

Larson agreed. She and said with all the financial and management issues Parks Canada is having right now, the federal government isn’t a good fit. She pointed to a land resource management plan conducted in the 1990s as a model that a larger percentage of the community can agree on for a protected area.

“It dovetails totally into the B.C. Nature Trust conservation practices and it works with ranchers. It’s a solution that provides more people with a shared use and a happier completion at the end of the day,” added Trudel of the resource management plan. “Rather than only pleasing five to 10 per cent of the community—which is the case with Parks Canada—this will please 75 to 80 per cent of the community and reflect the wishes and wills of the people that live here.”

HNZ general manager Dave Schwartzenberger was among the invited guests to the announcement Tuesday. But the helicopter training facility is no closer to finding out if they will be able to continue training if the national park goes ahead.

“They (government) keep saying everything is okay (for continued use) but we just have a hard time believing that,” said Schwartzenberger Wednesday. “We’re also heavily involved in the airport here and we just want to make sure all of the stakeholders are at least aware of what’s happening.”

Armed forces from a large number of countries, including Canada, use HNZ for it’s mountain flying training and upgrades.

The company is also currently in the process of renewing its permit with the province in the region as well, involving increased requirements regarding wildlife mitigation and other matters.

“It’s a tough one we’re really working towards being a good neighbour but right now there are just so many details to work out,” said Schwartzenberger.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


Robin Grant
Reporter, Penticton Western News
Email me or follow me on Twitter
Follow us on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Just Posted

Penticton shelter meeting current need, accepting donations of blankets, clothing

The shelter offers 30 beds year-round and 25 more temporarily over the winter

Okanagan Similkameen could have a sister city in the south of France

Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen considering agreement with wine region in southern France

Nature Wise: Thoughts in parting

Bob Handfield passes Nature Wise column on

Bob Ross is coming to Penticton in 2020

32 of the late painter and TV celebrity’s works will be on display at the Penticton Art Gallery

Princess Maggie presents Children’s Winter Carnival on Dec. 14

The Leadership class is hosting the event from 12:30 to 4 p.m.

VIDEO: Boys help rescue Cariboo bear cub

The cub, weighing just 24lbs, has been taken to wildlife sanctuary in Northwest B.C. for the winter

Doors open to Vernon’s first refill store

Vernon’s Refill Store may be answer to plastics problem

Okanagan RCMP not toying around when it comes to impaired drivers

Saturday, Dec. 7 is National Impaired Driving Enforcement Day

‘Things haven’t changed enough:’ Ecole Polytechnique anniversary prompts reflection

Fourteen women were fatally shot by a gunman at the Montreal school on Dec. 6, 1989

Bear raids freezer, gorges on Island family’s Christmas baking

Hungry bruin virtually ignored meat and fish, focused, instead, on the sweets

Crown delves into Sagmoen’s history with North Okanagan sex workers

Decision on validity of police search warrant will be made on Monday, Dec. 9

Kelowna man attempts to steal bait bike from RCMP parking lot

38-year-old Brian Richard Harbison is facing several charges

Summerland businesses participate in Sip N’ Shop

Downtown event on Dec. 14 will feature local beverages

B.C. pharmaceutical company’s stocks double in value after successful lupus drug trial

More than 40 per cent of patients using voclosporin saw improvements in kidney function

Most Read