Whoa, where has John Horgan been for the last five years?
The premier should have seen the national park reserve question coming from a mile away during his tour of Structurlam in Okanagan Falls last week.
He was definitely unprepared for the query about the community’s support for the park; either that or he was totally misinformed about how people feel about the subject.
Horgan was quoted as saying the community is behind the proposal and should move as quickly as possible to bring more economic activity to the region.
“I know I support the community’s drive to have a national park,” he said.
Obviously he hasn’t been aware of what’s been happening on the park front and the renewed calls for a referendum.
Some of the comments on our Facebook page are very interesting. Here are a few:
“Maybe he should realize that Vancouver is not the local community.”
“Mr. Horgan has clearly not spoken to local people.”
“Think again, buddy.”
“That’s how out of touch higher levels of government are.”
“Disguised as a conservation effort. There’s money in it for some and that is the reason they want that park.”
“It doesn’t make any sense to put this national park reserve in a highly populated area.”
“We are the real users of the mountain. Have been using it for years and like it as it is.”
The only positive comment we could find on our website was this one: “Great to hear this from our premier. Let’s get this done and get back to progress and preservation of a very unique region.”
In defence of Horgan, he doesn’t have time to be up to speed on the park issue and how people really feel about it.
Doreen Olson from the South Okanagan-Similkameen National Park Network is absolutely right – there would be a lot of yelling at a town hall meeting if one were held on the issue. But at least it would give people a venue to vent and would have gained Parks Canada a lot more respect for listening.
Granted, there was public consultation (which was extended to March 15), but some people are skeptical about this being a true representation of democracy on this issue.
A referendum, as the Town of Oliver supports, would be a definitive method of gauging what the public wants. The park concept is so divisive that a plebiscite is necessary to settle this. But don’t hold your breath.
No doubt there are positives with establishing such a park in the South Okanagan, but too many unanswered questions remain. And it’s far too late to have them answered after the opening ceremonies.
An avid naturalist from Kelowna told me that he spoke to MP Richard Cannings last week. He said MP told him the national park reserve was basically a done deal. But Cannings denied saying that.