For Mark Quaedvlieg, cattle ranching isn’t just a job; it’s a way of life.
“We’ve owned the property we’re standing on since 1910,” he said on Thursday.
However, the Keremeos, B.C., owner is worried his livelihood will be threatened if a national park reserve is established in the South Okanagan-Similkameen.
“The way the Park Act currently reads, there is no cattle grazing,” he said.
The national park concept has been a political hot potato for 15 years.
Now with a NDP-Green coalition B.C. government and the federal Liberal party at the helm, plans are forging ahead.
“The political climate is right for them to move ahead with this, but I don’t think it will be very successful because I don’t think the neighbours to this park will accept it,” Quaedylieg said.
Ranchers are calling for a legislative amendment to ensure the same grazing rights are protected.
“It’s not a very attractive tenure if you’ve been ranching for 100 years to go to an annual tenure at the whim of the head of parks,” he added.
On Aug. 14, Parks Canada reiterated that ranching will continue in a national park reserve and that expropriation of private land is off the table, but the details haven’t be revealed.
“It’s been very clear to us that continuing ranching and that way of life has been an important part of the South Okanagan, so that is something that we have made a commitment to work with the ranching associations,” Kevin McNamee, director of protected areas establishment for Parks Canada, said at the time.
Meanwhile, orchardist Doug Boult said recreational enthusiasts are opposed to restricted land access and park fees.
“It infringes in our rights and freedoms to enjoy the outdoors,” He said.
MP Richard Cannings was met by “no park” protesters during his stop in Oliver on Tuesday.
Some are calling for a referendum.
“Let the people decide, not somebody sitting in Ottawa,” said opponent Gary Warren.
Supporters praise the efforts as a way to conserve the ecologically sensitive landscape that’s home to 60 federally listed species at risk.
Parks Canada said public consultations will begin this fall, with final boundary recommendations tabled by next spring.