Penticton Western News letters to the editor.

Letter: Willowbrook resident shares thoughts on national park

You are asking that the residents of the South Okanagan as a whole sign a blank check

I am a Willowbrook resident and I am very concerned about the proposed national park.

I do not have or use Facebook so I cannot comment on what is being said there, but there are those who are intent on singling out the residents of Willowbrook with their pro-park agenda; so to that end, here are some of my concerns.

The absolute most disturbing issue is that years ago, when this discussion began, there was a total lack of any specifics and that has still not changed. There are still no set boundaries; there is no proposed agreements or even attempts at public negotiations aimed at specifics on issues like flood mitigation programs, fire response inside park boundaries, mosquito control programs, public health concerns, wildlife encroachments, controls on properties adjacent to park, access to engulfed private properties and cattle grazing, although the last has been mentioned in references to Saskatchewan Grasslands National Parks current grazing programs.

Those are just a few of the literally hundreds of local concerns that must be addressed first. Keep in mind that a national park has never been attempted in an area so densely populated with private lands.

Some park supporters have very colourfully portrayed in the media a picture of Willowbrook residents and indeed any who do not share their opinion as low educated, unwashed hillbillies who leave our meaningless jobs at Swampwater beer works to jump in our monster truck and quads, tearing off into the hills looking for a nest of baby eagles to stomp on.

This was a tribute to your journalist skills, you almost had me hating myself.

The truth is these residents have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars of their own money and dedicated decades of their lives to the protection and maintenance of these lands. Some have built careers, family businesses and legacies that necessitate the proper care of the lands. The proof of their success was in the admissions by Parks Canada biologists and representatives at a public meeting stating that “the husbandry of this area has been outstanding and of the best quality.”

Just maybe if it isn’t broke, we shouldn’t be fixing it.

You are asking that the residents of the South Okanagan as a whole sign a blank check to a federal government that once cashed will end any and all local input into the management of the lands in question where ever those borders may be and no matter how it effects the valley and residents as a whole.

I leave you with one last thought: the most terrifying words a working class Canadian citizen can hear.

I’m from the government and I’m here to help.

Rick Knodel

Willowbrook

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