South Okanagan National Park proposal given new life

Planning discussions for a national park reserve in the South Okanagan will begin immediately.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED

OSOYOOS - The prospect of a South Okanagan National Park moved a step closer to reality today with the federal government’s announcement of the reinstatement of planning discussions with several stakeholders.

Federal and provincial ministers gathered with local First Nations representatives to make the announcement at the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre in Osoyoos today, Oct. 27.

The three southern Indian bands of the Sylix/Okanagan Nation, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada Catherine McKenna, B.C. Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Hayman and Osoyoos Indian Band Chief Clarence Louie made a joint announcement to say planning discussions to protect lands as a national park reserve in the South Okanagan would begin immediately, according to a media release.

“We know the South Okanagan is a unique place that many British Columbians want to see protected as a national park reserve," Heyman says in the release. "We will work hard to make this happen, to preserve and protect the biodiversity of this special region, and for the positive contributions a national park reserve will make to the local economies."

The establishment of a national park reserve in the South Okanagan is seen as an opportunity to advance reconciliation, in addition to providing nation to nation engagement with three Okanagan Indian bands that could lead to a new partnership model for management of the proposed national park reserve, the release states.

The discussions are expected to take into consideration the continuation of ranching and recreational activities in the area.

Discussions to create a national park in the South Okanagan have been taking place since 2002.

Several local stakeholders remain opposed to the park, including a Penticton helicopter company who are concerned their use of proposed park land would be eliminated with the creation of a national park.

The White Lake basin is pictured in this submitted photo.
The White Lake basin is pictured in this submitted photo.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won't censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above. 

Colin Hugh Martin
How a Shuswap man smuggled loads of cocaine, ecstasy and pot across the border
He used a fictitious company, helicopters, and encrypted Blackberries to move the drugs back and forth between Canada and the U.S., until undercover agents busted the operation in 2009.  Now, after a nearly ten year legal battle, Colin

Top News