To the Editor:
Prior to last week’s announcement, members of the Coalition were invited to meet with ministerial assistants of Federal and Provincial Environment Ministers.
As a result of those talks, members look forward to meaningful, unbiased and factual analysis of the true impact a National Park Reserve will have on the South Okanagan and Lower Similkameen Valleys, its businesses and its residents.
The Coalition remains fundamentally opposed to a National Park Reserve in this area – The National Park Act is too blunt. While the Act does allow for special provision for non-traditional uses in a National Park, it also empowers Parks Canada to withdraw those provisions at any time.
Coalition members understand we live in a special area which requires special management. Members participated in the Land and Resource Management Planning Process (LRMP) initiated by Federal and Provincial ministries – it is a good plan addressing all stakeholders and protecting fragile areas with Provincial Parks.
Increased risk of wildfires, potential negative impact on agriculture (ranching, predation by wildlife on crops and smoke contamination of wine grapes), loss of outdoor recreation from hunting to hang gliding and the future of the Penticton Airport – some of the challenges the Coalition feel need further consideration.
HMZ Helicopters accounts for 65% of activity at the Penticton Airport, helicopter training isn’t allowed in National Parks, they will move.
We look forward to a respectful, unbiased, professional and factual process as indicated by both levels of government.
The Grassland Park Review Coalition is a group of stakeholders and local citizens with a mandate “To balance the hype and identify the true impacts of establishing a National Park Reserve in the South Okanagan-Lower Similkameen Valleys.” For 15 years the Coalition has remained steadfast in its unity to bring fact, reason and reality into this process.