We wish to inform your readers that, unlike those who oppose the national park in the recent ‘No National Park’ advertisement, our experience with Parks Canada has been positive. Sure, we are impatient with the slow pace of progress, but we have never felt we were being deliberately misled, nor have Parks Canada officials been dishonest.
Decision-making is slow but First Nations and ranchers need more time to consider their position and/or options related to the national park and we are respectful of that.
The facts are that the grasslands protected areas currently set aside (LRMP) have little protection, scant funding and no staff. Polling shows that the majority of regional residents support the establishment of a national park. National parks across Canada provide dozens of jobs to local citizens, increase local business opportunities and bring significant financial investment into the community. Most importantly, a national park will protect some of the last remaining natural landscape in our rapidly developing region for future generations.
Your readers might be interested to know that Canadian Helicopters have been assured by Parks Canada, at least twice in writing, that the national park will not hinder their training school. Their landing site on Snowy Mountain is no longer included in the proposed park area. To imply to the community that this business will be negatively affected seems to be almost unethical.
Parks Canada has extensive experience with fire prevention and grassland fires — they will work with the local municipalities, the region and the province to design a collaborative approach that will support and enhance the existing wildfire management and expertise.
The ‘hype’ is in fact coming from the No Park Coalition, who refuse to publicly acknowledge that the LRMP’s protected areas are basically unfunded, unstaffed, unmonitored and provide none of the benefits to our communities and ecosystems of a national park.
We remain encouraged that the national park will happen.
On behalf of The South Okanagan-Similkameen National Park Network