National park devastating for agriculture

The park area would be taking approximately 2,000 acres away from the Agriculture Land Reserve.

Editor’s note: This letter was written to Terry Lake, MLA Kamloops-North Thompson, minister of environment.

Dear Mr. Lake,

Thank you for withdrawing your support for the National Park.

I am a newly elected director for RDOS, Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen, and I represent Area B, Cawston Rural.

We are an agricultural based community and the National Park would consume close to 50 per cent of our area.

I’m told that the park area would be taking approximately 2,000 acres away from the Agriculture Land Reserve; close to 1,000 acres is prime agriculture land in our Area B from the U.S.A. border up to the Richter Pass of Highway 3.

Removal of this land from the ALR would be devastating to B.C.’s agriculture industry and devastating to the ranching industry for the South Okanagan and Similkameen region.

This is the one main ranch affected but there are 11 more ranches affected also.

Ranching and agriculture in general have a tough time already competing with the desire for residential land and with the inflated land prices of the Okanagan and South Similkameen valleys.

The National Park would create more economy for the tourism industry but only by taking it away from the agriculture industry.

It would also create more competition for the land surrounding the park which in turn makes all agriculture less economical.

While I was campaigning for the director’s position I found out that the National Park was a major concern for our residents.

It turned out that about 90 per cent of the locals did not want a park and the few that did was only because they didn’t want to see the land chopped up for residential lots.

I began to campaign against the National Park and the removing of the ALR lands.

My opponent who avoided the Park issue also had done an extensive door-to-door campaign and she later told me that she found 60 residents who were pro-park.

This would be about five per cent of our population in favour of the Park.

I have attended all of Chloe O’Loughlin’s speeches on benefits of the National Park and she states that only 21 per cent in our area strongly oppose the park.

This could be somewhat true but she fails to say that the other 75 per cent are opposed to the park.

I also work with and have had meetings with some of the First Nations people who are strongly opposed to the Park and it saddens me to see Parks Canada offer them a lot of money to see if they will change their minds.

I don’t see any money offered for a study on the agricultural lands or with the ranchers in general. I don’t think people understand how devastating the effect is to all the other ranchers, to lose the major beef production of our area. Already auction yards and machinery dealerships are moving farther away creating more expenses for our ranchers.

In summary, along with the lack of funding for our National Parks due to our increasing national debt, the lack of business and local government support, the lack of First Nations support, the lack of local resident support and the devastation of the agriculture industry, I commend you and the B.C. Government on their decision not to support the National Park.

This is a letter written by myself and in no way reflects the opinion of the RDOS.

George Bush

Director Area B