Larson gives qualified support to national park reserve announcement

By on November 7, 2017

At the end of January, former B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak (right) announced the B.C. Liberals would resume talks with the federal government on a possible national park reserve. MLA Linda Larson (centre) says the recent NDP government’s announcement with the federal government is “almost identical,” but her government’s announcement had more details. At left is Chief Clarence Louie of the Osoyoos Indian Band. (Richard McGuire file photo)

MLA Linda Larson says she hasn’t been approached to be part of the process of establishing a national park reserve in the South Okanagan, but she offers qualified support.

“I feel comfortable with the announcement and the process if everyone is equal at the negotiating table and if all outstanding issues are addressed,” she told the Osoyoos Times in an email last week. “I am reasonably sure it will take more than two years to sort out.”

Larson was not present when the federal, provincial and First Nation governments announced together on Oct. 27 that they were beginning talks immediately aimed at establishing a national park reserve in the South Okanagan-Similkameen.

Instead, she was at a beam raising ceremony with Health Minister Adrian Dix at the construction site of the new patient care tower at Penticton Regional Hospital. She also accompanied Dix when he spoke with staff at South Okanagan General Hospital in Oliver the same day.

Larson said her initial reaction was that the recent announcement was “almost identical to the announcement the (B.C.) Liberal government did last winter with a bit more detail.”

On Jan. 27, former B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak announced her government was moving forward on talks with the federal government and First Nations that could lead to a national park reserve in two areas of the South Okanagan.

Unlike the recent announcement, which gave no details, Polak’s announcement included boundary maps and assurances that there would be no expropriations and that existing land uses would continue.

“We said then that the Okanagan Nations would need to identify what was most important to them first,” said Larson.

Nonetheless, Larson cautiously welcomed the recent announcement.

“If the feds are actually going to invest staff time and money to this, that is a good thing,” Larson said.


Osoyoos Times


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