Parks Canada Announces South Okanagan-Similkameen National Park Plans in Fruition

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Progress on the planned national park that would span the Similkameen and the South Okanagan, British Columbia is slowly being developed, per an announcement provided by Parks Canada.

The park’s work was delayed in 2020 because of the pandemic. In 2021, it was postponed again due to floods and wildfires the year before. Since then, meetings in person and discussions among Parks Canada, the provincial government, and the various bands of the Okanagan Syilx are back on track, according to a report by Surrey Now Leader.

In their latest announcement for the general public, Parks Canada promised that it should be approved by the three parties concerned. 

The park will provide the long-term potential for sustainable tourism and local employment within the area, help advance reconciliation and safeguard the potential to carry on Indigenous traditional practices. It will also continue to allow grazing.

One of the areas being examined is the number of species in danger that could be found within the proposed boundaries of the park.

Many areas of the boundary of work have yet to be surveyed, meaning that the species at risk could be greater than what is currently understood.

At present, there are 17 provincially-listed species within the region. The federal government has recognized 92 species at risk and 36 ecological communities thought to be at risk.

Other species are also found in the region of economic, cultural, or ecological significance. A large part of the work in the park is to bring in Syilx Okanagan the traditional knowledge of ecology regarding the species.

Consultation with Parks Canada began in 2018 with residents and other stakeholders about the proposed park and its boundaries. It comprises 270 square km or 27,300 hectares within areas like Mount Kobau, Spotted Lake, and Kilpoola.

The proposed park would comprise land within the BC Parks’ South Okanagan Grasslands Protected Area.

All three involved parties in the agreement signed a Memorandum of Understanding to negotiate toward a possible park for 2019.

If negotiations are completed between a trio of parties will require an establishment agreement, which will be followed by discussion and planning to establish the management and operation of the parks.

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