Despite calls for review from the Regional District of the Central Okanagan and the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB), John Horgan and the NDP have decided to allow the invasive Eurasian milfoil to spread across vital lakes and beaches in the Okanagan.
Horgan has restricted the use of rototilling in the Okanagan and now milfoil is beginning to overrun lakes, damaging local ecosystems and infecting popular beach and tourist destinations.
A provincially-commissioned report in 1991 found that termination of rototilling would lead to a projected economic decline of $85 million in annual tourism revenue, $360 million in lost property value and over 1,700 job losses in the Okanagan alone. Those numbers will have increased exponentially in 2019.
“This is horrendous news for our local lakes and especially for those who depend on them for income,” says Eric Foster, MLA for Vernon-Monashee. “The NDP have seized regulatory control away from local experts and are steaming ahead with a half-brained solution that will destroy the balance in our ecosystems.”
The OBWB and the RDCO have both written to NDP Minister Doug Donaldson multiple times explaining that uncontrolled milfoil will severely impact local tourism. Donaldson has dismissed the warnings, claiming that the NDP will be looking into future research opportunities.
“Once again, John Horgan and the NDP are contradicting themselves,” says Steve Thomson, MLA for Kelowna-Mission. “The ministry continues to insist it knows best despite admitting that it does not yet have all the facts.”
Ben Stewart, MLA for Kelowna West, fears that Horgan’s dismissive attitude and lack of long-term planning, which has already cost so many jobs in the forestry industry, will begin to cost jobs in the tourism industry as well.
“Has the NDP learned nothing from the mill closures?” says Stewart. “Real people’s livelihoods are at risk and the NDP are telling locals to just sit tight while they look into the issue. All the while, the milfoil will continue to spread and our economy will continue to suffer.”