Establish a Parliamentary Secretary for BC Parks
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Dear Honourable John Horgan,
We are asking that you create a new position of Parliamentary Secretary for BC Parks. Furthermore, we are asking that you establish terms of reference for this Parliamentary Secretary to run an accelerated public consultation process that will lead to the development of a renewed BC Parks strategy.
We understand that the first months of the new government have been hectic and you have a long list of things that you are working hard to deliver on. However, we are concerned about how BC Parks has slipped through the cracks given the desperate state of the system after years of neglect.
As one example, the word "parks" does not appear a single time in your 18/19 to 21/22 Province of British Columbia Strategic Plan. That is a glaring oversight in our opinion.
On top of that, your budget refers to the refers to the "BC Parks Future Strategy" of the previous government and it appears that you are endorsing and adopting that strategy document. The BC Parks Future Strategy was introduced with little to no public consultation in November of 2016 and is inconsistent with your principles. In many ways, the document is a wolf in sheep's clothing. It contains a handful of specific actions that are positive such as a short term commitment to increasing the number of campsites. However, the core principle of the strategy is the idea that the park system is a burden and that the government should find other sources of funding such as corporate sponsorship. The strategy fails to acknowledge that BC Parks is one of the greatest strategic assets of the provincial government and that investments in the system deliver a healthy financial return to the people of the province through the tourism industry. It also fails to acknowledge the other benefits that the system delivers (quality of life, reduced health care costs, species protection, etc.) and therefore the importance of providing consistent funding that does not depend on external sources.
The Minister of Environment and Climate Change has a very large file and we believe that it is appropriate for the Minister to receive additional support so that BC Parks will no longer slip through the cracks. Time is of the essence and the issue of BC Parks must be tackled head-on because the status-quo is not good enough. Please consider this request for the creation of a role of Parliamentary Secretary for BC Parks.
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