Parks Canada is hopeful it can provide recommendations on boundaries for the proposed South Okanagan-Similkameen National Park Reserve in early 2019.
“A new national park reserve will not only help renew a nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples, but it will contribute to a network of protected and conserved areas. These protected areas help safeguard Canada’s biodiversity and provide unprecedented opportunities for Canadians to experience the outdoors and learn about our environment, and contribute to sustainable economic development,” reads Parks Canada’s website.
Areas under consideration for the proposed national park include Mount Kobau, Blue Lake, and the Chopaka area. It will not include Fairview or Willowbrook.
“We’re still in discussions about what the boundary (of the park) might look like, but we have a general idea,” said Doreen Olson, coordinator of South Okanagan-Similkameen National Park Network.
It was first decided in 2011 that a national park reserve was feasible in the aforementioned area under certain conditions. The commitment to work together to establish this park was renewed in October 2017 by the Governments of Canada and British Columbia along with representatives of the Okanagan Nation Alliance.
Minister Catherine McKenna will be providing an update to Parks Canada representatives about the project on Aug. 17 in Penticton during a closed-door meeting.
“I’m looking forward to open conversations with the public so that we can clear up a lot of the misconceptions cleared up about where the park is. No boundaries have been set at this time … it’s a concept. But when people say they’re not represented as a community, yes they are, through the B.C. government and the federal government. The small details will come later,” said Olson.
More information about the project and its timeline so far can be found on the Parks Canada website.