By Vanessa Broadbent
Parks Canada has announced the launch of its public consultation process regarding the South Okanagan-Similkameen region’s proposed national park reserve: a website including a survey.
The announcement was made Monday by minister of environment and climate change Catherine McKenna, 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,” Parks Canada stated in a news release.
Chief Louie shared his support for the park reserve, saying the present provincial system does not provide enough protection to the 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.”
• Read more: Parks Canada launches website on proposed national park
McKenna is urging the public to complete the survey.
“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.”
When McKenna visited Osoyoos in August to discuss the national park reserve, she said the public consultation process would include open house meetings. Parks Canada has not issued any information regarding such meetings.
Public input will be gathered online, through the consultation website, until February 28, 2019.
In spring 2019, once feedback has been collected and reviewed, Parks Canada said they will share a “What we Heard” report with the public, which will include a summary and analysis of the results of the consultation.
Parks Canada said the findings will “inform future recommendations regarding the proposed national park reserve.”
An agreement on a boundary for the proposed national park reserve and an approach to the management of the land is planned to be in place by summer 2019.
Once agreed on, the formal establishment of a national park reserve in the South Okanagan-Similkameen can begin.
The website and survey can be found at www.letstalksouthokanagansimilkameen.ca.