The Honorable Lana Popham
B.C. Minister of Agriculture
I have been asked a number of questions relating to the effect the proposed national park reserve (NPR) will have on various local farms in the South Okanagan that will be engulfed or boarder on this project.
I have gone through much of the material available and have found feasibility studies on the economic effect on the area and on the effect on tourism, but very little on the effect specific to the agricultural industry on a whole. Most of what is said has to do with the proposed restrictions on grazing rights but nothing that covers orchards, vineyards, and ground crops.
Many of the concerns that have been brought to my attention have to do with wind machines for frost protection, bird bangers made to harass starlings and other fruit eating birds, the use of helicopters for cherry rain protection, the use of sprays and fertilizers, and of course water cost and supply in some of these areas.
The Canada Parks Act is a complicated piece of legislation that is difficult at best for a lay person to understand, but I am led to understand that a NPR would have considerable powers over adjacent lands out as far as the foraging range of the species found inside the park. In the case of our famous burrowing owls that is a minimum of 4.5 km. Furthermore the use of wind machines and bird bangers would be considered harassment of endangered species and therefore inconsistent with the operations of a national park. I have heard the parks proponents saying that agreements will be made to accommodate these concerns; but we have to know exactly what powers the NPR will have over adjacent properties. We will also have to establish what may actually become an issue in the future given the complicated nature of this legislation and the hundreds of actions, processes, and chemicals needed to successfully farm. Furthermore we have to know that these agreements are binding.
Recently Kevin McNamee (Top manager for Parks Canada) was quoted as having said that his Canada Parks Wardens and employees could do nothing less than apply the Canada Parks Act as written and any changes or agreements would have to be in written into legislation to be enforced.
I am including a recent quote in a local newspaper from McNamee on this subject: “Asked whether this park would have its own legislation, like the recently established Rouge National Urban Park near Toronto. McNamee said it would not. Rather it would be established under the Canada National Park Act.”
This in itself is very concerning as it shows a degree of unconcern for this area and its needs which are very specific.
I was recently informed of a study along the Kettle Valley Railway (KVR) trail corridor that included the river channel as a survey of endangered species. This brought into question if wardens from the proposed national park would have jurisdiction along the river channel and other areas out side of the proposed park. If this is so we will have to exercise caution in assurances that there will be sufficient protections in place to protect our agriculture industries and private properties from encroachment by an organization that has tendencies to be radical and overpowering in implementing its philosophies.
A quote from Sarah Boyle (Parks Canada) in the Oliver Chronicle January 3 2019:
“When a park comes into an area they are required to write a species action plan. This identifies the species located within the park and actions required by the park and the communities around it for those species. However this would likely not take place until the establishment phase of the park”.
The proposed park boarders will affect Areas “A, B, and C “ of the Regional District Okanagan Similkameen and as agriculture is the main economic engine in these areas, the detrimental effects could be absolutely devastating to the economy of these areas. It must be noted that while our agriculture industries are healthy and robust they still operate on a very narrow margin and any additional encumbrances could force many into an unproductive situation. The loss of any of our farms would have a recoil effect into the tourism industry as many come here for our wines, fruit and vegetables.
As this is uncharted territory for us, it is essential that we have a feasibility study dedicated to ascertaining what the questions need to be and then obtaining correct concise answers to these questions to form the basis for the protection of the regions farming industry.
I am requesting that the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham initiate a complete and comprehensive study on this.
Without this we put the health of our agricultural industries at risk.
Regional Director Area “C”
Regional District Okanagan Similkameen