National park would mean drastic lifestyle changes and financial hardship for hundreds of area families

By on November 7, 2017

Dear Editor:

I’m a land owner in the Willowbrook subdivision near Oliver, who lives within the proposed national park reserve boundaries. My family, and many families like mine, are extremely concerned about the effects a national park or national park reserve could have on our lives.

I’ve heard it claimed that the national park proposal has 70 per cent support from the public. I’m not sure which segment of the population was surveyed, but it certainly wasn’t the local one.

Those of us who stand to be most deeply affected by the park are almost unequivocally against it. Most of us are not ranchers or others with a financial interest in the land aside from its resale value – we are simply people who make our homes and raise our children here.

A read through the National Park Act reveals that we may lose the rights to build or otherwise use our land or operate a small business, lose access to areas we’ve respectfully used for years and lose the right to keep livestock or domestic animals … not to mention the effects on property values.

I understand the need to conserve rare and sensitive ecosystems in our area, as well as traditional First Nations land uses.

But most of these areas are already protected under provincial jurisdiction and there are hundreds of common people whose lives will be changed if a national park becomes a reality.

Here’s the thing. No one really knows all the potential impacts this could have on our families.

Even our politicians openly admit they’re not sure where all this is headed (though I suspect they know more than they say). With each successive government that arrives and every bit of legislation that passes, our lives stand to be irrevocably altered.

Beginning the process opens the door – and there’s no going back.

My husband and I invested in our property understanding that it will allow us to raise our family and eventually retire.

Now we find ourselves facing a big question mark.

In fact, our property value has most likely already been affected by what’s been in the news regarding the proposal.

Would you buy in this area knowing the uncertainty it faces with the pending national park reserve?

I sure wouldn’t.

Much of the support for this proposal comes from outside the area – people who think it would be great to have a new vacation spot here in the beautiful South Okanagan.

But this project will not be without casualties if it goes through.

Please be aware that your support of the national park proposal may mean drastic lifestyle changes and financial hardship for hundreds of families.

Thank you for your time.

Sasha Hopp

Oliver, B.C.

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  1. Sylvia

    November 8, 2017 at 9:58 am

    You need look no further than what has happened with the Banff national park and Jasper national park to figure out that eventually only the well heeled will be able to afford use of a proposed national park in this area.

  2. Les Dewar

    November 8, 2017 at 10:26 pm

    What nonsense. Willowbrook is not part of the proposed NPR at all. This is nothing more than fear-mongering.

  3. Phillip Elliott

    November 9, 2017 at 11:11 am

    The writer makes a valid point. Property values could possibly devalue if swarms of tourists disrupted the quiet rural lifestyle Willowbrook residents currently enjoy. Without a natural wonder in the area like the Grand Canyon, a spectacular waterfall or mountain vista, I doubt that would occur in Willowbrook. Regardless, I hope Parks Canada will consider concerns like this and restrict the Park development to areas where there is a lesser negative impact on landowners.

  4. Steve Matal

    December 1, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    Agreed with Les.

    “No National Park” National Park would, in fact, help secure the access rights of the public land in the area. Our access rights are under attack and more and more land owners are choosing to put no trespassing signs on right of ways and crown land knowing that the average person does not know how to determine if land is indeed private.

    In any case good luck getting enforcement. Take the Orofino logging road, a crown access to Taylor lake up in the Willowbrook area. Someone has taken it upon himself to gate this road off. (FYI all logging roads in BC are crown property, and rights granted to build them are on the basis that they remain such) A call to MoF netted a soft response: “We decided not to press our rights in this case…”

    Meanwhile Taylor lake is stocked every year by the province. Wish I had a private stocked lake.

    I am suggesting that in an environment where private land owners are taking it upon themselves to close public access, and a provincial bureaucracy which refuses to enforce said access, a national park is the only remaining mechanism to ensure fair access to land.

    What about the jobs a park could create, or do you even care that if your kids don’t move away the only jobs they can get will pay minimum wage?

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