South Okanagan National Park Reserve moves closer to reality
OSOYOOS, BC - The Wilderness Committee is celebrating the news that several key levels of government are now cooperating towards the designation of a new national park in the south Okanagan Similkameen region of BC.
The three southern Okanagan communities of the Syilx/Okanagan Nation, the government of Canada and the government of BC jointly announced their intention to work together towards the designation of a new national park reserve at an announcement today held at the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre, located near Osoyoos.
“This is tremendously good news,” said Wilderness Committee Campaign Director Joe Foy. “We have been working with local allies on this protected area vision for over a decade and it looks like the vision will soon be a reality.”
Local residents have worked side by side with environmental groups and individuals across BC for many years to develop the concept of a national park reserve in the south Okanagan. Parks Canada began studying the area for a park in 2003. However, the former Liberal BC government seemed, at best, luke-warm to the idea – even though public opinion strongly favoured a national park with over three to one ratio of local support.
“Under the former provincial government, the dream of a national park reserve seemed more like a desert mirage - something that was not really there,” said Foy. “But with the new NDP government in BC, and this cooperative announcement, a bigger, more connected park reserve including important ecologically diverse areas like Vaseux and White Lake will hopefully be a part of our future,” he said.
The arid South Okanagan-Similkameen region is one of the four most endangered ecosystems in Canada, and is home to 30 per cent of BC's endangered species – including badgers, rattlesnakes, bobolinks and charismatic burrowing owls.
The Province will build on its world-renowned provincial parks system by hiring more park rangers to enhance conservation, improving services for persons with disabilities and launching a new BC Parks Foundation.