I would like to thank Gary Mason for promoting the concept of a national park in the South Okanagan of B.C. He is correct in stating that this area represents one of the most important ecosystems of the world and includes nearly 60 federally listed endangered species.
I have been familiar with this issue since my election in 2006 and have met with those on both sides of the debate. My conclusion is that the proposed park is the best way to preserve this pristine area. This will also create jobs and have a positive effect on our local economy.
The Union of BC Municipalities recently passed a resolution in support of the park which has the support of local chambers of commerce, First Nations, environmental groups and many others.
There have been legitimate concerns expressed about the continuing viability of a local helicopter school as well as the ranching community. These have been addressed by Parks Canada.
It should be remembered that the establishment of a national park is a lengthy process.
A few years ago, I was told by the former federal environment minister, Peter Kent, that the federal government would resume negotiations should the province of B.C. make the request. Concerns of ranchers and others can be addressed once negotiations resume between the two levels of government.
I strongly urge our provincial government to re-engage in this important process.
We have a chance to do something right for future generations.
MP, BC Southern Interior