Public consultation launches on proposed national park reserve in the South Okanagan-Similkameen
Partners seeking input on final boundary of national park reserve and management of land
December 10, 2018 Syilx Nation, British Columbia Parks Canada Agency
Nature inspires Canadians. The wonders of our diverse landscapes, flora and fauna, instill pride in our natural heritage. The South Okanagan-Similkameen region contains some of the most biologically diverse and rare ecosystems in Canada and has sustained Syilx/Okanagan communities for thousands of years.
Today, a public consultation on the proposed national park reserve in the South Okanagan-Similkameen is being launched. The announcement was made by Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, George Heyman, B.C. Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, Chief Clarence Louie of the Osoyoos Indian Band and Chief Keith Crow of the Lower Similkameen Indian Band.
Canadians are invited to share their views and ideas on the proposed boundary for the national park reserve and provide their input on key aspects for consideration in the management of the lands. Public input will be gathered online, through a consultation website, until February 28, 2019.
In spring 2019, once feedback has been collected and reviewed, a “What we Heard” report will be prepared and shared with the public. The report will include a summary and analysis of the results of the consultation, which will inform future recommendations regarding the proposed national park reserve.
The goal is to have an agreement on a boundary for the proposed national park reserve and an approach to the management of the land by summer 2019. Once agreed on, the formal establishment of a national park reserve in the South Okanagan-Similkameen can begin.
To participate in the consultation, please visit www.letstalksouthokanagansimilkameen.ca.
For more specific information about the proposed national park reserve in the South Okanagan-Similkameen, visit the Frequently Asked Questions on the Parks Canada website.
“We are committed to doubling the amount of nature protected in Canada. Establishing a portion of the South Okanagan-Similkameen region as a national park reserve will protect one of Canada’s iconic natural and cultural landscapes. Working together with the Government of British Columbia, the Osoyoos Indian Band and the Lower Similikameen Indian Band, we have the opportunity to protect this incredible place for all Canadians today, and generations to come. I encourage local residents, Indigenous peoples and stakeholders, as well as all Canadians, to participate in the consultation and shape the proposed national park reserve in the South Okanagan-Similkameen.”
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada
“The South Okanagan-Similkameen is a unique area that has great ecological significance for many people. We are committed to working with the federal government and the Syilx/Okanagan Nation to establish a new national park reserve that contributes positively to local and regional economies. This renewed relationship represents a valuable opportunity to advance reconciliation while protecting rare natural and cultural landscapes, sensitive ecosystems and species at risk.”
B.C. Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy
“We cannot avoid the environmental fact that this region is one of the country’s most endangered natural ecosystems. The present provincial system does not provide enough protection to this area. Today, we are proud to say we are partnering with the Lower Similkameen Indian Band, and the Governments of Canada and British Columbia to move forward with the important work needed to protect this area as a proposed national park for future generations.”
Chief Clarence Louie,
Osoyoos Indian Band
“The sməlqmixw are committed to the principles of reconciliation with British Columbia and Canada. The Park Reserve discussions are a forum that will create greater protections for our siwɬkʷ (the water), tmxʷu’laxʷ (the land), and tmixʷ (all life on our traditional lands) within our unceeded territory. We are creating opportunities to support sməlqmixw ranchers as well as our cultural relations with the land, which include Syilx hunting, harvesting, gathering and future opportunities.”
Chief Keith Crow,
Lower Similkameen Indian Band
In October 2017, the Governments of Canada, British Columbia and the Syilx/Okanagan Nation announced a renewed relationship to explore the establishment of a new national park reserve in the South Okanagan-Similkameen. The proposed national park reserve in the South Okanagan-Similkameen will contribute to a network of protected and conserved areas, while helping to advance reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.
The South Okanagan-Similkameen is one of the most ecologically diverse regions of Canada, and protecting this area would support the recovery of more than 30 federally-listed species at risk and over 60 provincially-listed species, including American badgers, flammulated owls, yellow-breasted chats, desert night snakes, and western rattlesnakes
The South Okanagan-Similkameen represents an area of significant ecological, geographic and cultural importance with a wide range of recreational and tourism opportunities like hiking, camping, bird watching and mountain biking.
The shrub steppe ecosystem found in the interior of British Columbia, including the South Okanagan-Similkameen, is recognized as one of the country’s most endangered natural systems. These rare pockets of semi-arid desert are the only occurrence of this ecosystem in Canada; they form the northern tip of North America’s Great Basin Desert.