South Okanagan National Park formation slows – Penticton News
Photo: Parks Canada
Little new information has come from a Parks Canada update presented to the Okanagan-Similkameen Regional District on Thursday regarding the progress of a proposed national park in the South Okanagan.
Sarah Boyle, Parks Canada contact for the long-debated and often controversial reserve, told council that Parks Canada has made an effort to communicate with regional municipal leaders, area directors and other officials during the last year to discuss concerns.
“So it’s really about addressing targeted meetings that have taken place with local experts, who really wanted to make sure that Parks Canada is aware of the level of information and knowledge they have on the ground. and which were particularly linked to forest fires and invasive species. management, ”she shared.
Plans for future discussions should include grazing and flood management, flood prevention and monitoring.
“We are currently working on using the available information for mapping species at risk and road mortality of wildlife and undertaking these exercises. When this information is ready and available, we are happy to share it.
A public update letter was issued in August of this year, which included the content of constituency concerns from regional directors and local leaders.
“In terms of responding to the public letter, we tend to get a whole range of responses. We get everything from “Why isn’t this park here now”, “We don’t want this park”, to “Thanks for the updates”.
Boyle added that otherwise there were no specific additional questions from the letter to Parks.
However, the questions raised by local elected officials on behalf of their constituents have led Parks Canada to confirm that there will be no expropriation of private lands; the acquisition of private property will only take place on the basis of a willing and consenting buyer.
At the same time, provincial Crown lands that lie within the functional boundaries of the proposed national park reserve, including the South Okanagan Grasslands Protected Area, will remain under the jurisdiction and management of the province. until the proposed national park reserve is established.
Commercial timber harvesting within the proposed boundaries is temporarily suspended until a decision is made on the establishment of the park.
Updates for local elected officials will continue to come from Parks a few times a year or when new information becomes available.
A Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Canada, the Government of British Columbia and the Syilx / Okanagan Nation was signed in July 2019.
Negotiations for a settlement agreement for the proposed national park reserve will continue and all three parties will need to approve and sign the final agreement to establish a national park reserve.
The last board update was made in the fall of last year, where Parks Canada agreed to hold consistent meetings with local governments.