The public consultation period for a proposed national park reserve in B.C.’s Southern Interior is now closed, Parks Canada announced on Friday.
In December, Parks Canada launched a public consultation period for a controversial park reserve in the South Okanagan and Similkameen. The public was invited to offer feedback through an online portal until Feb. 28. That deadline was later extended another two weeks until March 15.
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The park is controversial because some area ranchers feel they’ll lose grazing tenures on Crown land.
Also, should the park reserve be established, banned activities would include recreational off-road vehicle use, hunting, trapping, firewood collection, parachuting, base jumping, mushroom picking and drone use.
According to Parks Canada, the South Okanagan and Similkameen are among the most ecologically diverse regions of Canada, and creating the park reserve would support the recovery of more than 30 federally listed species that are at risk as well as more than 60 provincially listed species.
In a press release issued Friday, Parks Canada said: “Members of the public were invited to share their views and ideas on the proposed boundary for the proposed new national park reserve in the South Okanagan-Similkameen and provide input on key aspects for consideration in the management of the lands.”
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Parks Canada said that it held 36 meetings with stakeholder groups representing a variety of interests and received around 2,750 submissions as part of the online consultations.
Parks Canada also said that the Osoyoos Indian Band and the Lower Similkameen Indian Band held discussions with members of Indigenous communities through ongoing relationships.
The federal agency added that while the public consultation period has ended, it will continue to work with specific stakeholder groups and private landholders.
Parks Canada has said that a “what we heard” report will be prepared and shared with the public in the coming months once all feedback has been collected and reviewed.