The time for a national park has come – and gone

There hsve been too many years of varied land use in the Okanagan - Similkameen to make the establishment of a national park feasible

Anti – park stakeholders from the Similkameen staged a rally last Wednesday in an effort to show that there continues to be strong local opposition to a national park in the region.

One of the reasons for the rally was due to frustration felt by no – park proponents who feel that pro parks groups favouring the cause for a national park  are understating the magnitiude of local opposition and misrepresenting the progress being made towards reconcilliation with the no – park supporters issues in their ad campaigns and press releases.

Whether those views represent the truth or  not most likely depends on the reader’s own point of view.

What started out as a three year Memorandum of Understanding between the provincial and federal governments has now stretched into an eight year process which includes verbal assurances to the dissaffected, but nothing of substance, leaving the anti park stakeholders feeling  that there is no more guarantee now than there was eight years ago that their interests will be protected.

Parks Canada’s apparent interest in making concessions to such things as existing grazing use of potential parkland, as well as their assurances to Canadian Helicopters contradict pro park supporters’ views that only a national park can provide the protection the area needs. If the national park system can water down the existing criteria now, who is to say what further dilution could take place in the future? It represents a dangerous precedent – and if the national parks system is indeed the last bastion of environmental protection in Canada – should they be going in that direction at all?

Based on a history of a century and more of stakeholder use,  and the inherent incompatibility of national parks criteria with useage presently existing in the proposed park areas, we feel the time for a national park passed years ago.

Even anti – park stakeholders are aware of the need for environmental protection for the area – it’s time for all stakeholders to realize they all want the same thing, and come to the table with a willingness to compromise with respect to how they will achieve it.