Bullied by Parks Canada

During Sarah Boyle's address about the National Park Reserve to Oliver town council on Feb. 11, she let a nugget of information loose that perhaps residents of the South Okanagan-Similkameen would like to take a moment to consider with more scrutiny. 

Boyle stated that Parks Canada had received just over 1,000 feedback results for its online consultation. 

Consider the math: for the population of Oliver, Osoyoos, rural Oliver, Keremeos and Cawston, the community is approximately 19,500 people.  This is a five per cent sample which submitted their wish list to Parks Canada for development of the park.

When you add to this that the consultation is open to anyone in Canada, it’s easy to presume that some may come from outside the area. We have no way of knowing, because Parks Canada has not approved a request for a bonded third party to review the results, citing privacy concerns.

Nearing the end of the NPR consultation period at the end of February, it’s likely that the establishment of the park may proceed with 1-5 per cent of the local population engaged in the discussion. 

This will be presented to a steering committee that contains no local residents' input, no elected local representative, operated by a federal organization based in Quebec. 

Contrast the previous numbers with the South Okanagan Similkameen Preservation Society's December 2018 poll, which found 59 per cent think the government has done a poor job of local consultation, and 76 per cent of respondents want a local referendum at the next federal election.

It adds up to this: locals don’t have enough faith in Parks Canada to answer their skewed consultation process. It’s a very bad beginning with a new neighbour in a rural community.

Locals we talk to say Parks Canada has no respect for what residents want to say. Given the results of cancelled meetings on Feb. 12-13, it appears Parks Canada will impede meetings if they don't work to its favour.  

Locals are being dictated to by Parks Canada, who is limiting the debate, controlling the sharing of information and the means to have any dialogue. Is this what's done when a National Park Reserve is such a good idea

South Okanagan Similkameen Preservation Society

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