An open letter to Premier Christy Clark regarding a National Park in the Okanagan Valley
British Columbia Minister of the Environment Terry Lake recently announced that the British Columbia government would be withdrawing its support of the proposed National Park for the south Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys. Up until now, the BC government has backed the park idea, and 8 years of hard negotiations had brought everyone onside save for a small group of hunters and all-terrain-vehicle enthusiasts. The legitimate concerns of ranchers and First Nations communities were being dealt with successfully through complex consultations and were either resolved or close to being resolved. It is therefore apparent that immediate action is needed to get this important initiative back on track. I have just sent this letter to Christy Clark, the Premier of British Columbia. Feel free to adapt it as you wish and send in your own version. Addresses to use are:
Premier Christy Clark: firstname.lastname@example.org
Minister of Environment Terry Lake: email@example.com
Even better, mail a printed copy through the post to these people at their Victoria postal address:
Here is my letter:
Dear Premier Clark:
I was both surprised and disappointed to hear of your government’s decision to shelve the plans to create a National Park in the South Okanagan. The reasons for my surprise are as follows:
— The local people want this park. The only scientific poll carried out to date indicates about two-thirds of the people in the south Okanagan and Similkameen are in favour of the park, while only a quarter oppose it. In my personal experience, many opponents to the park plan are very misinformed about the size, placement and management of the proposed park, and are actually objecting to situations that were rectified through consultation years ago.
–Local businesses want this park. Hotel, motels, restaurants and other tourism-based businesses would benefit directly from the extended visitor stays the park would promote. Wineries and other related businesses would similarly benefit. The Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association has incorporated the park concept into their 5-year plan and obviously hoping it becomes a reality.
–The park would provide about 500 permanent jobs, a badly needed boost to the local economy. These would be “clean” jobs generated by a project that the public wants.
–Eight years of negotiations have answered objections initially raised by the ranching industry, and my sources tell me that the vast majority of local ranchers now support the park concept. Similarly, negotiations with local First Nations are in advanced stages, ironing out how co-management would work in the Park.
–Park opponents seem to be dominated by local hunters and all-terrain vehicle users. These groups have the entire valley to play in, and will only suffer minor inconvenience if the Park goes ahead in its present form, a form much reduced in size from previous plans. In contrast, supporters of the park proposal will be denied the considerable benefits that the park will provide if the plans are shelved.
My disappointment obviously stems from the fact that your government has chosen to listen to a small minority of constituents and threatens to cancel an exciting project that would be of great benefit to the social, economic and environmental well-being of British Columbia. Please reconsider this decision. We can’t afford to lose this opportunity and all the hard work that has gone into making this dream a reality. In closing, I would simply like to know why you feel the desires of the few opponents outweigh the obvious benefits to this park?