Letter: Say no to national park

Those of us who speak up run the world. It only takes a few minutes to write provincial representatives, writes Aubrey G. White.

The province of B.C. is again reviewing the possibility of a national park in the South Okanagan. They are asking residents to comment on the proposal.

If our provincial government approves the South Okanagan National Park Reserve, the following will happen:

• Parks Canada now has full control and local input will be ignored.   Ask those who live in Banff or Jasper.

• First Nations will be given management control of this park as they have in other national parks. If that happens they will be allowed special access to the park that non-First Nations people will not have.

This a current proposal by First Nations: “The areas dedicated to the national park would be managed in partnership with the Sylix People under a consensus-based cooperative stewardship regime (similar to the successful model used in Gwaii Haanas), including the use of traditional ecological knowledge to meaningfully inform and guide park management and decision-making.”

Both the federal government and First Nations have now gained full control of our parklands, which means our local wants and needs are irrelevant. The province has given away our park and we will never get it back.

Our parks currently provide protection and management of the wildlife and wilderness areas while restricting commercial development. The provincial parks are well managed and most local stakeholders are satisfied.

We are on a very slippery slope, which may allow Parks Canada, First Nations and other special interest groups to control our public lands.

With few exceptions, wildlife and wilderness in the South Okanagan are not endangered but our control of this beautiful part of the world is in serious danger. Our lifestyle is slipping away.

Interference by the federal government and special interest groups are not in our best interests. Remember, the federal government is big enough to give you a national park and strong enough to ignore your advice. We hope the province of B.C. will listen to our concerns, keep our provincial parks intact, and make them work for everyone.

Time is getting very short but we still have time to write letters asking provincial officials not to reopen negotiations with Parks Canada. It’s time for the silent majority to speak up and say we are happy with how our lands and wildlife are now protected and a federal park is not required.

Numbers count with politicians and the proponents have written many letters in favour of a national park. This is why they are reconsidering their options with Park Canada.

Those of us who do not believe a national park is a good idea thought the battle had been won when the province ended negotiations with Parks Canada but the war drums are beating again.

Those of us who speak up run the world. It only takes a few minutes to write provincial representatives.

You can reach MLA Linda Larson at Box 998, Oliver, B.C. V0H 1T0 (email Linda.Larson.MLA@leg.bc.ca); or contact Mary Polak, Minister of Environment, Parliament Buildings, Victoria, B.C., V8V 1X4 (email  ENV.Minister@gov.bc.ca).

– Aubrey G. White, Vice-President, Osoyoos Wildlife Federation, Osoyoos, B.C.