Council pro national park

Osoyoos council voted against supporting a request for a referendum on the creation of the South Okanagan National Park issue.

MLA Linda Larson sent letters to Osoyoos and Oliver council asking members to send a letter of their own in support of her request to the federal government that voters have a say in the decision to put a national reserve in place. 

"My office has been deluged with phone calls and emails and I have been approached by many constituents asking for a referendum. A recent poll of residents in Oliver, Osoyoos, Keremeos and Cawston released in January showed 76 per cent of people are in support of a referendum on the issue," Larson wrote in her request. 

Oliver council agreed with Larson and wrote a letter requesting a referendum, but Osoyoos council was not convinced. 

"When I initially saw this on our agenda I was kind of supportive and I thought it might be a good idea to resolve an issue in our community," said Coun. CJ Rhodes. "After some sober second thought and kinda looking at it and thinking about it, I don't understand how a referendum could be held in our community when it's a federal matter." 

He added that he would need more information about how the referendum would be held and what exact question would be phrased before he felt comfortable supporting it. 

Couns. Jim King and Myers Bennett and also spoke against writing a letter, saying the Osoyoos council has historically supported a national park. 

Mayor Sue McKortoff agreed, citing the fact that last three councils she has been on have been pro-park and that Parks Canada is collecting voter opinions through other avenues. 

"I'd just like to point out that there is a great deal of information on this on the town website," McKortoff said. "And [Parks Canada] is continuing until the middle of March to receive information."

She urged both those that support the park and those who don't to engage in the feedback period by sending a letter or filling in the online survey. 

Council voted to direct Mayor McKortoff let MLA Larson know they would not be contributing a letter of support for a referendum. 

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