Talks on the table for South Okanagan National Park
The province has agreed to begin talks with the federal government and local First Nations to discuss creating a national park in the south Okanagan.
The announcement comes at the end of a consultation process on a provincial proposal outlined in August, 2015.
According to a survey released that same year between 65 to 76 per cent of residents were in favour of the idea.
“I’m very happy to say plans are moving forward to protect this beautiful region for future generations,” Environment Minister Mary Polak said.
The plan on the table would see the regions south west of Okanagan Falls and west of Osoyoos part of a National Park Reserve while the area between Cawston and Oliver would be preserved as a provincial conservancy.
“We have done lots of work to the proposal to ensure lands are protected while respecting existing land use commitments,” Polak said.
People in favour of the park expect hunting and fishing within the park would not be allowed – except for First Nations.
However they believe concessions can be made on other current land uses like flight activity for a mountain flight training school and grazing rights for local ranchers.
“There’s no other national park that has grazing used in a permanent way. Parks Canada was willing to allow grazing to continue as it is now,” Richard Cannings, South Okanagan-West Kootenay MP said.
Discussions between the province, the federal government and the local first nations aren’t expected to begin in earnest until after the B.C. Election in May.
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