A new poll commissioned by the South Okanagan Similkameen Preservation Society indicates much lower support for the proposed national park compared to a previous poll by McAllister Opinion Research.
The December 2018 survey conducted by INNOVATIVE Research Group involved 300 residents of the South Okanagan-Similkameen (in communities near the proposed national park reserve, including Oliver, Osoyoos, Cawson and Keremeos).
The telephone interviews took place from December 12-19. The margin of error for a random sample of this size is 5.7 per cent 19 times out of 20.
The results of the poll were a surprising departure from the McAllister Opinion Research survey, which reported 69 per cent of respondents were in favour of a park.
But the new poll discovered that 35 per cent of residents were strongly opposed to the park, while only 27 per cent strongly supported the concept.
Apparently the most telling information in the new poll is the support for a referendum to determine if the park should be implemented. Three out of four residents (75 per cent) of the South Okanagan and Similkameen regions want a referendum on the issue.
Boundary-Similkameen MLA Linda Larson said any plans for a future park reserve in the South Okanagan must be built on the consensus of all of the people who live and work in the region.
Helena Konanz, Conservative Party candidate for South Okanagan-West Kootenay, said the challenge for her is not knowing the total cost to taxpayers, adding that most people would never sign a blank cheque.