A patch of Kelowna may be kept in the dark so you can still see the stars - InfoNews

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A patch of Kelowna may be kept in the dark so you can still see the stars

Views from the Johns Family regional park include Okanagan Lake. It could soon be declared a Dark Sky Park.
Image Credit: Submitted/Regional District of the Central Okanagan
November 15, 2019 - 7:00 AM

Efforts are underway to keep light pollution from more than 400 hectares of land south of Kelowna.

A massive undeveloped park in the hills south of Kelowna that can be accessed from Chute Lake Road is being promoted as Canada’s next Dark Sky Preserve.

At its board meeting today, Nov. 14, the Regional District of the Central Okanagan supported an application to have the 406-hectare park declared a preserve for stargazers. The next step is to apply through the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada for the formal designation.

There are 19 such parks in Canada but only two are in B.C. — one is in Victoria and  the other is in Abbotsford.

The idea is to have a place for stargazers to go that’s away from any human-made light sources.

“With its large size, conservancy status, location adjacent to parcels of Crown land and provincial park, and minimal lighting and infrastructure, the park is perfectly poised to become the province’s third dark sky preserve,” states the report that went to the regional district board

“Not only would the designation, if approved, be relatively simple to implement with our existing resources, but the designation would showcase a commitment to conservation in our quickly developing region.”

Hector and Elizabeth Johns bought the land in the 1950s, primarily for selective logging and cattle ranching. It was donated to the Central Okanagan Land Trust in two parcels in 2004 and 2011, after the Okanagan Mountain wildfire ripped through the area in 2003. It’s believed to be the largest such donation to the land trust in B.C.

The family insisted that it be left undeveloped in order to provide habitat for wildlife. In 2012 the land trust signed a 99 year lease with the regional district to manage it as a park.

It has a small parking lot so most of it is only accessible by foot. If programs are developed for night activities, it’s likely that a shuttle bus service will have to be set up to get to the park.

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