YEAR IN REVIEW: What a year it was in Lake Country

Lake Country Calendar reporter Kevin Parnell on the year that was in Lake Country

Lake Country Calendar reporter Kevin Parnell.

What a year it has been in Lake Country.

From model airplanes dive-bombing sleeping chickens to CN Rail selling native land for $22 million, it has definitely not been a sleepy year in the District of Lake Country.

Looking back at the year that was 2014, it’s amazing to see just what went on and to imagine where the district is going in the future.

There is the food bank with Phyllis crammed in her quarters pumping out food to those in need while behind the scenes a serious volunteer crew tries to raise enough money to get a real food bank building. Here’s hoping that we are almost at the end of writing stories on the possibility of a new food bank building.

There was infrastructure projects that really meant something with the opening of the new Bottom Wood Lake Road like another chapter for the family of Josie Evans, the teen killed on the dark stretch of road four years ago.

It was an honour to meet and talk to Evans’ family and feel their sorrow and their strength in the face of such a terrible tragedy.

There was the Aspen Grove golf course, the little community golf course that was sold, then re-opened but on a short leash. There was overcrowding in schools. There was a serious lack of kokanee in Wood Lake. There was a million dollars of repairs on Pelmewash that no one wants to pay for. There was a new bus route and a new park ‘n ride.There was lots of wine to be had on the Scenic Sip and plenty of food and craft at the farmers market. There was the restructure at municipal hall and then another and then another.

And then there was the CN Rail corridor, a story that made me so excited to tell, to talk about the possibilities of a transportation corridor linking the communities of Kelowna, Lake Country and Vernon. An old rail line, rail to trail, tourists, economic spinoffs, a new era in transportation.

But as has been our history in Canada, we just walked all over the rights of the people that first inhabited this great land. The land CN wants to sell doesn’t even truly belong to them. It’s native land, yet the Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) has had little to do with the process.

The land was given to the OKIB by the government, then taken back and given to white ranchers. CN pushed a rail line through it and now that the company can’t use it anymore, they are selling it for a $22 million profit.

With respect to the parties involved in the purchase, this is an atrocity. We’re talking human rights here. Once again the white man is doing what he wants, continuing a legacy of ignoring native rights.

Why hasn’t the provincial government said anything about this? Why won’t they settle this land claim and negotiate with the OKIB? Why will they put money towards this deal but not talk money with the First Nations who the courts have ruled have rights to the land?

These are questions that need to be asked of our elected representatives. And I vow to do that for you.

So as we turn the calendar ahead to 2015, there will be many issues that continue for the little district that could. And we will be here to bring them to you every week as well as online every day.

Happy New Year folks! Let’s make 2015 even better.

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