Chamber of Commerce clarifies park stand

In response to the recent letters to the editor the Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce reviewed its stance regarding the park.

To the Editor:

Re: Chamber Stand on National Park

In response to the recent letters to the editor in the local media, the Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce was asked to review its stance regarding the proposed South Okanagan National Park. It has been inaccurately described that the Chamber of Commerce is supporting only one business by not endorsing the national park proposal. It is our duty as advocates for business to support well substantiated business cases and the widest array of members as possible.

Since the national park discussions began the Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce has welcomed presentations and requested additional information from all sides of this project. The Chamber has consulted with ranchers, miners, accommodators, restaurateurs, various park supporters and more. Throughout deliberations,  numerous businesses have expressed concerns and opposition to the national park proposal.

Proponents of the park cite HNZ Helicopters as the “one” business opposing the park. However, that which is forgotten is the millions of dollars in business tourism brought to our region annually by HNZ’s internationally recognized training courses. This “one” business contributes upwards of 3,000 room nights per year to local accommodations. With the recent expansion to their operations and with the global economy on the upswing, HNZ is setting their sights on more training opportunities that could lead to room night bookings of close to 5,000 per year.

The regional economic impact of this business positively affects and supports hundreds of other businesses, including those in the food industry, retail sector, aviation industry, and services sector. This economic data has been well documented and supported.

The Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce has also invited proponents of the national park to make presentations and provide information. Much of the economic data presented was in the form of anecdotes and comparisons with dissimilar national parks in different geographic regions. To date, proponents have not fulfilled requests to supply a sound business case supporting the national park proposal.

It was after careful consideration that the board of directors reaffirmed its existing stance at our June board meeting.

The Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce does not currently support the national park proposal.

Yours very truly,

Penticton & Wine Country Chamber Of Commerce