The South Okanagan Similkameen Preservation Society has been in negotiations with Parks Canada for the past 3 weeks to host a “stakeholders” meeting regarding the proposed National Park Reserve. Only on Feb 8th (4 days prior) did our group receive confirmation. The day after (Feb 9th) sending out invitations to our membership, Parks Canada wanted to limit the debate to only 150 “stakeholders” total.
In a recent event, yesterday evening within 24 hrs of the “stakeholders” meeting, Parks Canada has cancelled the event.
Many, many members from various organizations like the BCWF, Grassland Coalition and the SOSPS had indicated relief that there was finally going to be a open-mic conversation about the Park. Sadly, this would have been the first “public” meeting for the issue. Many had committed to drive from all regions, no matter the weather to express their questions and concerns. Many also indicated that they were waiting for this “stakeholders” meeting to satisfy unanswered questions before taking the Parks Canada Consultation Poll, release last December which ends February 28 2019.
If the promise to have a conversation with local residents can be broken last-minute to the convenience of Parks Canada, is this an indication of the integrity they will practice in the future with promises regarding any aspect of the process? When an agenda or tough questions are being made, shutting down and controlling the conversation is disingenuous, and lack any accountability to local taxpayers.
For an organization that promised local input, this decision by Parks Canada to shut down the conversation during the “consultation period” has done irreparable harm to the trust that locals have for our Federal Government and the democratic process.
South Okanagan Similkameen Preservation Society