South Okanagan National Park proposal given new life - InfoNews.ca

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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
October 27, 2017 - 10:34 AM

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

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