A meeting intended to give community members the opportunity to voice their questions and concerns about the proposed national park reserve in the South Okanagan has been cancelled by Parks Canada, with less than 24 hours notice.
Sarah Boyle, Park’s Canada’s project manager for the park reserve, told Oliver town council on Monday evening that the meeting, planned for Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., would be postponed so senior officials could attend.
Parks Canada had agreed to meet at the Oliver Community Centre with the South Okanagan-Similkameen Preservation Society (SOSPS), Grasslands Coalition and the British Columbia Wildlife Federation (BCWF).
A meeting planned for Wednesday with the Naturalist Clubs and First Things First Okanagan is also being rescheduled.
“Parks Canada apologizes for the short notice and inconvenience that this may cause the membership of these organizations. Lead representatives of these organizations will be contacted in the near future with further details,” Parks Canada media relations chief Dominique Tessier said in an email.
The SOSPS received confirmation from Parks Canada on Feb. 8, four days before the event, and were told the next day that only 150 people would be allowed to attend, the society said in a press release.
“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,” the press release stated.
“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 … 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.”
Parks Canada has not yet announced when the rescheduled meetings will be held.