Close Okanagan to control growth

World-renowned Canadian ecologist David Schindler advises shutting the door to further growth in the Okanagan.

Renowned ecologist David Schindler

Renowned ecologist David Schindler

It’s time to shut the doors on the Okanagan.

“Developers won’t like it, but lots of people are fed up with increased density,” notes renowned ecologist David Schindler, of the University of Alberta.

The alternative, he warns, is famine, water shortages and disease epidemics such as we see today in other parts of the world.

By opening our gates wide to immigration, we are sharing their problems, he says. “Nations need to decide because there is no global government,” he explains.

A country shouldn’t use more than its own resources, and Canada needs to cut down its resource use, he says.

“We have to do something about population size. We can control birth or immigration or death or emigration. Some options are ethically less palatable to people than others. If we were to cut off health care for people at the age of 70, people would die more quickly because there’s far more need for the health care system after that age,” he explained.

However, it’s more likely that this country would opt to control birth rates and immigration  by offering a tax reward to those who have fewer children, he said.

“We need to do something. The debate needs to start now, not when it’s too late,” he said.

By doing nothing to change the current rate of loss of habitat we will have decided first that we don’t care about losing our populations of such large mammals as grizzly bears and caribou.

“If we only want small mammals we can destroy even more habitat,” he added.

Schindler, who was in Kelowna to speak to the annual conference of the Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution being hosted by UBCO this week, remembers visiting the Okanagan years ago.

Since then, he has seen the results of more people, more-intense agriculture, development of more-grandiose houses and the resulting huge traffic problems.

“In order for that to occur, you lose habitat and there’s biodiversity gone and there are species put at risk because they’ve lost habitat,” he said.

Instead, development has to be slowed and people should decide what level of human populations they want, then they need to figure out how to get there and then to stabilize populations.

Since there is an average of 1.6 children per couple in Canada there is room for some immigration, but we need to reduce it, he believes.

“We need some realism,” he says.



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