PENTICTON - Those opposed to a proposal for a national park in the South Okanagan-Similkameen now have a voice on the internet.
Keremeos resident Arlene Arlow recently launched a website called No National Park designed to tell the complete story of the national park proposal.
“I don’t like people being duped, and in my opinion, people have been duped about a national park,” she says.
Arlow, who is a bookkeeper and Quickbooks consultant, notes much of the area proposed for a national park is already protected land, with approximately 35 per cent privately owned.
"These chunks of non-contiguous, private land could take generations to acquire, if and when the landowner decides to sell. There is no law saying the owners have to sell to the national park,” she says.
Arlow also noted the vast tracts of land already under some level of protected status, noting the Grasslands Protected Area, White Lake Protected Area, the Snowy Mountains Protected Area and an area around Vaseux Lake.
“When phone surveys were conducted asking people whether they were in favour of a national park or not, you can bet they didn’t mention the areas already protected,” she says.
Arlow feels the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, through a provision for security of person, means the government can’t just “shove this down the throats of people who will be negatively impacted.”
“There’s people who could lose their livelihood, the local economy could be affected to the tune of millions of dollars per year, if the ranching industry is negatively impacted, so there’s a lot to lose,” she says, adding there are provincial acts and regulations that govern Crown lands that holds ranchers accountable for environmental infractions.
“I can assure you, ranching has been active in the South Okanagan and Similkameen since the 1860’s. The ranchers know what they are doing,” she says.
She says it makes sense to her to maintain an industry which works 365 days, as opposed to tourism which has a peak season of three months.
“It’s a matter of economics,” she says.
Arlow says she has received a lot of support since her website went live.
“I have the support of local farmers and ranchers, even local political support,” she says, refusing to reveal the politicians who favour her website.
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