From: South Okanagan Preservation Society (SOSPS) is following up with the public and media on recent events regarding the proposed National Park Reserve.
SOSPS attended a meeting on Feb 25th of various organizations such as the BCWF, BCCA and various national and provincial park administrators.
The meeting was a rescheduled event, after Parks Canada cancelled a larger meeting in Oliver that was planned for Feb 12th. The meeting on the 25th was limited to only 15 stakeholders, which was a 90% reduction from the original meeting of Feb 12th. To date, Parks Canada has not had a single public meeting during its “consultation” period. Citing that they did not feel that speaking to the public was “constructive”.
What was shared at the stakeholders meeting supported the belief that very little is known about the proposed NPR, and there was a distinct level of dissatisfaction with Parks Canada’s handling of locals:
• Parks Canada has no idea what the budget or expenditures for this park are. When asked what other similar parks had cost – they also had no idea what the expenditures were. The have no budget or business plan per se.
• Two residents from Kilpoola Estates attended with the SOSPS. They expressed their dissatisfaction with parks, as their properties will be surrounded by the proposed park, and they had not been notified until a regular letter post arrived on February 6th. No previous contact had been initiated to inform the land owners that the surrounding properties were drastically changing.
• Parks Canada had received a little over 1000 replies to the “consultation survey” at the time of the February 25th meeting. Half of these surveys were from non South Okanagan Similkameen postal codes. Meaning that from a population of more than 19,500 residents immediately surrounding the park, 3.07% of residents participated in the survey. The SOSPS expressed that this lack of participation was due to locals having a lack of faith in the Federal Government and Parks Canada. Our research (SOSPS Poll Dec 2018) shows that the majority of local residents believe that Parks Canada has done a bad job of the consultation process, and the lack of participation in the federal survey provides evidence of this fact.
• $4 million dollars have been spent since 2001 pursuing this park proposal in various efforts by Parks Canada. This amount of public funding could have protected this area with a permanent full time park ranger for 25 years.
• Parks Canada was requested to provide the results of the survey to a 3rd Party bonded data analytics firm for an unbiased assessment. There has been no reply to this request by the SOSPS (30 days since request)
• Parks Canada was requested to extend the consultation period due to: December being a holiday month, many locals away from town travelling south, and February being the shortest month of the year. The SOSPS request was for a 2 month extension, 2 weeks were granted.
• The fact that certain pro parks groups were publishing versions of the “feedback survey” with fields of the survey “pre-entered” with pro park answers, and directly suggested answers that would generate a “very pro park” return. Parks Canada said they would look into this, and had plans to parse answers that appeared similar. With no 3rd party oversight, there is no way to confirm returned surveys that have been generated automatically via websites that are pro park.
• Parks Canada reiterated its position that they are not interested in having any public consultation, other than by written or submitted electronically surveys, controlled, collated and reported by Parks Canada only.
The South Okanagan Similkameen Preservation Society is confident that the dialogue will continue. We will continue the pursuit of local referendums, public meetings (hopefully with Parks Canada) and the dissemination of information regarding the consequences of the proposed National Park Reserve.
Oliver Daily News has been publishing and offering both sides of this issue – space for each No or Yes side.
Basically all I have seen is Jim and Midge Wyse, Albert Hudec and Marion Boyd – all residents of water front property at Tuc-el-nuit Lake.
The main SO agent of the Parks Canada, Doreen Olsen of Kaleden leads a small organization not based in Oliver or Osoyoos advocating for a park or NPR in this area. She has not avail herself of
open publication of ideas. Ms. Olsen does not seem to advocate for a NP or NPR where she lives, the PIB, Skaha or Okanagan Lake.
Instead she has, in my Humble Opinion funneled information to news outlets or reporters thought to be supportive of a park or NPR.
I invite anyone that discusses this issue in an intelligent way – giving the pro’s and con’s of such an idea.
Publisher Jack Bennest and Oliver Daily New remains committed to staying on the “fence” and publishing, investigating and discussing all sides and issues in connection with the NPR (2003 – 2019).