UPDATE: Meetings with stakeholders on South Okanagan national park suddenly cancelled - InfoNews

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UPDATE: Meetings with stakeholders on South Okanagan national park suddenly cancelled

Meetings between local stakeholders and Parks Canada officials regarding a national park reserve in the South Okanagan Similkameen scheduled this week were suddenly cancelled.
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February 12, 2019 - 12:50 PM

PENTICTON - A couple of meetings scheduled between local stakeholders and National Park officials were suddenly cancelled by Parks Canada without explanation this week.

Information sessions planned between Parks Canada and the Grasslands Coalition, the British Columbia Wildlife Federation and the South Okanagan-SImilkameen Preservation Society scheduled for today, Feb. 12, and a second meeting between local Naturalists Clubs and First Things First Okanagan on Feb. 13 are being rescheduled for later the month, a communication from Parks Canada said today.

South Okanagan-Similkameen Preservation Society director Lionel Trudel said plans for today’s meeting were discussed three weeks ago with Parks Canada officials. Invitations were sent out to the organization’s members, only to have Parks Canada notify the group on Feb. 9 they wanted to restrict the number of people at the meeting.

“What we’re seeing is a lot of British Columbians want to have a say in this process, so I’m at a loss to explain to our membership how we would walk back an invitation due to a limitation Parks Canada put on us after a confirmation of attendance,” Trudel said.

Trudel says he was watching Parks Canada’s presentation to the Oliver town council yesterday, Feb. 11, when Parks Canada representative Sarah Boyle suddenly told council she had to cancel meetings scheduled for today.

“It seems really odd. It’s left a lot of people in the lurch, and my biggest concern is we have a lot of seniors who are not computer inclined, and not checking social media every hour, who may try to drive through some snowy conditions to come to a meeting that isn’t happening, literally cancelled at the last minute,” Trudel says.

First Things First Okanagan director Jim Beattie says his group was looking forward to meeting with Parks Canada, and was surprised by the cancellations. After speaking with fellow directors, he believes the cancellations were due to Parks Canada personnel’s flights being cancelled due to weather in Ottawa and Toronto.

Parks Canada said in an emailed statement it was rescheduling in order to allow senior officials with Parks Canada responsible for park establishment to meet with lead representatives from each group to hear “first hand” the interests and perspectives of each organization. The statement said the individual organizations will be contacted in the future with details about the rescheduled meetings.

In response to iNFOnews.ca's request for comment, Parks Canada responded with another written statement says it "had no further information at this time."

Find past stories on the proposed South Okanagan national park here.

— This story was updated at 12:48 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019 to include a response from the South Okanagan Similkameen Preservation Society and Parks Canada.

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