Public Sentiment Regarding Landscape Conservation in the East Kootenay Region
Whether the evidence be breakfast banter overheard at Tim Horton’s, or the results of scientific public opinion surveys, residents of British Columbia’s East Kootenay region appear to be clear and consistent in the high value they place on healthy and abundant wildlife and wildlands.
2008 Public Opinion Survey
Seven out of ten Kootenay residents want to protect the Flathead River Valley as a national park, according to polling results released by Wildsight and Sierra Club BC. The poll, conducted by McAllister Opinion Research, found that 73 per cent of residents in East Kootenay, Nelson-Creston and Columbia River-Revelstoke favour protecting the Flathead River Valley in southeastern B.C.
Only 16 per cent of residents polled said they oppose a national park in the Flathead.
“People who live here know the Flathead River Valley deserves the same level of protection and recognition as Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park,” said Ryland Nelson, Wildsight’s Southern Rockies program manager. “These polling results confirm the impression we get from talking to people around the Kootenays - ;that they love nature and want to make sure it’s properly protected.”
East Kootenay Conservation Program Opinion Survey
A regional survey conducted in 2006 for the East Kootenay Conservation Program by Cameron Strategy Ltd. of Calgary revealed that residents believe overwhelmingly that economic growth should not be at the expense of conserving wildlife and habitat.
- “85% of residents feel that it is important to conserve and protect wildlife species and the habitats they depend on in the long-term, even if that means slowing down short-term economic development (like housing and recreational developments).”
- “78% of residents disagree that it is more important to grow the economy than protect wildlife.”
In June 2004, twelve of fourteen members of the Regional District of East Kootenay voted in favour of a feasibility study for a possible national park expansion. The Ktunaxa First Nation and the City of Fernie also support the proposed feasibility study. In contrast, MLA Bill Bennett and the BC Liberals have not been supportive of a feasibility study.