Oliver, Osoyoos at odds over proposed national park referendum

After the Town of Oliver called for a referendum on the controversial proposal to create a national park reserve in the region, the neighbouring community of Osoyoos has declined to follow suit.

Local MLA Linda Larson wrote to Osoyoos town council in late February to ask them to follow Oliver’s lead and ask “the Federal Government and Parks Canada [to] hold a referendum [on the national park reserve] during the next Federal Election in October of 2019.”

“My office has been deluged with phone calls and emails and I have been approached by many constituents asking for a referendum,” wrote Larson in her letter to Osoyoos council.

“I strongly feel that it is in the best interests of the people that reside in the South-Okanagan-Similkameen.”

However, at a council meeting Monday, Osoyoos voted to reject Larsen’s request to send a letter in support of a referendum.

Two councillors said there wasn’t enough information about what a referendum would look like for Osoyoos council to support the idea.

Watch Below: Global Okanagan’s previous coverage of a proposed national park reserve in the south Okanagan-Similkameen

“I require more information about how that referendum would work: some of the dynamics, how it would be held and when it would be held,” said councillor C.J. Rhodes. “I’d like to see the question first.”

“I just don’t really feel comfortable supporting a referendum at this time that I don’t really know anything about.”

Mayor Sue Kortoff also spoke against the idea of Osoyoos supporting a referendum, saying she personally supported the creation of the national park reserve as have previous town councils.

However, McKortoff urged residents for and against the proposed park reserve to make their feelings known through the ongoing public consultation process.

“Whether you support the park or you don’t, please take the time to write in and give the powers that be…the information that you think should be considered,” she said.

Those who would like to weigh in on the proposed park reserve have until March 15 to submit their feedback online.

— with files from Shelby Thom

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