Mistrust in the Federal government surfaced during a presentation about the proposed South Okanagan-Similkameen Grasslands National Park Reserve at the Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen.
Sarah Boyle, project manager for the South Okanagan-Similkameen protected areas establishment branch, provided a brief overview last Thursday of the park, which working boundaries include areas north of Cawston, east towards Oliver and Osoyoos and south to the U.S. border.
In her presentation, Boyle discussed uses that would be permitted in the park, including grazing, camping, fishing and some off-road vehicle use for those with grazing tenure. She noted First Nations would have access to the land for traditional use, which could include hunting while non-First Nations people would not.
The information drew the ire of one director, George Bush, Area B (Cawston), who’s comments drew raucous laughter from fellow directors when he said the Federal government could not be trusted, but then backed-off by adding he didn’t think they were liars or cheats.
He cited ongoing and historical issues with First Nations peoples, treaties and reservations as proof.
“One government says, ‘ya, we’ll do this and then 10 years, 20 years, 50 years later the next government comes along and squashes all that idea or cuts everything back. And that’s what I’m saying. The Federal government is not to be trusted in what they are saying. and basically the next 100, to 200 to 300 years this is all going to be one park. It’s all going to be bought up. There’s not going to be hunting or grazing, and to me, this is when we’re going to need our agriculture land 100, 200 years from now because we’re losing so much land a year every year in agriculture.”
In response Boyle said the working boundary for the national park reserve only included 986 hectares categorized as land in the Agriculture Land Reserve.
Bush countered by saying all the land in the park had the opportunity to be used in food production.
“We talk about food Sovereignty all the time and we’re losing it, so that’s why i don’t agree with it… I’m in favour of protecting that land and there are other ways of doing it. I’m not in favour of the provincial government giving up the rights to look after this land to take care of it.”
Boyle encouraged directors and the public to fill out the online survey and make sure their thoughts and feelings were heard. Those wanting to fill out the survey can do so by going to letstalksouthokanagansimilkameen.ca or stop by their public library or municipal office for a paper copy.