There is no question that the provincial government has neglected environmental protection.
While there were four conservation officers in the North Okanagan about 20 years ago, there are now two and a supervisor. In total, the present complement is five field officers and a supervisor for an area from the north end of Shuswap Lake to Peachland.
How effective is such a small force going to be over such a vast geographic area, particularly when demands are growing?
“We have no protection in our watersheds so mudboggers go in there,” said Mike Macnabb, a regional district director.
“We are finding illegal dumping all over the place.”
Conflicts between people and wildlife are also growing. In 2012/13, there were 1,673 cases of problem animals in the North Okanagan, including instances of livestock being killed.
And illegal hunting continues to be a problem.
Ministry officials are encouraging the public and local jurisdictions to get more involved, and while that is fine, it should be pointed out that residents already pay taxes for the service, so is further downloading necessary? Also, even if local residents report infractions, will there be an officer available who can enforce the law?
The Regional District of North Okanagan is demanding that Victoria place more conservation officers on the ground to protect our natural resource.
But that isn’t enough. Our newly elected MLAs — Eric Foster and Greg Kyllo — need to hear directly from residents of the North Okanagan.