The provincial government is proposing to add more land to B.C.’s parks.
This week, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy announced it is proposing amendments to the Protected Areas of British Columbia Act that will add approximately 107 hectares to six Class-A parks.
The ministry said the proposed additions are the result of private land acquisitions and include:
- 2.5 hectares to Harmony Islands Marine Provincial Park along the Sunshine Coast
- 29 hectares to Bridge Lake Provincial Park in the Cariboo
- 19 hectares to Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park in the Okanagan
- 35 hectares to Syringa Provincial Park near Castlegar
- 17 hectares to Kikomun Creek Provincial Park in the Kootenays
- 4 hectares to Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Provincial Park in the Kootenays
The ministry said amendments to the act are regularly required to add land to parks and conservancies, modify or correct boundaries and improve boundary descriptions.
The ministry also announced that it will be renaming John Dean Park near Victoria to Lau,welnew (pronounced: Tlay-will-nook) / John Dean Park. The ministry said it means ‘place of refuge’ in the language of the Wsanec people.
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“Giving this park a traditional Indigenous name connects us all with the original history and cultures of our province and supports ongoing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples throughout B.C.,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.
“I was moved when I received a number of letters from young Indigenous students who all requested this change and expressed so clearly the meaning it would have for them.
“This legislation also expands our parks and strengthens protection of sensitive lands, so British Columbians will be able to enjoy beautiful natural spaces for years to come.”
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The ministry added the amendments will also replace boundary descriptions with official plans for two ecological reserves (Gilnockie Creek in the East Kootenays and Trout Creek near Summerland) and three Class A parks (Conkle Lake in the Okanagan, Jewel Lake north of Grand Forks and Johnston Creek east of Osoyoos).
According to the provincial government:
- B.C. has 1,033 provincial parks, recreation areas, conservancies, ecological reserves and protected areas covering more than 14 million hectares — approximately 14.4 per cent of the provincial land base.
- The majority (628) of provincial parks in the system are Class A — lands dedicated to the preservation of their natural environment and for public use and enjoyment.
- B.C. Parks manages the third largest parks system in North America behind the United States’ National Park Service and Parks Canada.
- B.C. has the highest percentage of its land base dedicated to protected areas of all provincial Canadian jurisdictions.
Harmony Islands Marine Provincial Park addition (2.5 hectares)
- Harmony Islands Marine Provincial Park is among a group of small islands that make up the Harmony Islands in Jervis Inlet, located approximately 90 kilometres from Vancouver. The addition brings the east side of Hotham Island into the park, which will span the entire island. The total area of this park will be 46 hectares.
Bridge Lake Provincial Park addition (29 hectares)
- Located between 100 Mile House and Clearwater, Bridge Lake Provincial Park protects a lengthy stretch of undeveloped shoreline and islands in the lake – except for one. A 29-hectare island, known as Heritage Island, will be added to the park. The total area of this park will be 434 hectares.
Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park addition (19 hectares)
- Located in the northern section of the park that borders Kelowna, the addition contains an open forest, grassland ecosystem and significant wetland. It also addresses long-standing trespass issues in the area known for mountain biking and hiking trails that intersect within the park. In addition to the 16.4-hectare property acquired in 2018, a road access to the acquired parcel, previously exempted from the park, is being added. The total area of this park will be approximately 7,696 hectares.
Syringa Provincial Park addition (35 hectares)
- Located in south-central B.C., near the southeast end of Lower Arrow Lake. The park preserves significant interior Douglas fir forests and one of the few remaining examples of grassland ecosystems in the Kootenays. The addition to the park is within a rare ecosystem and provides important winter range for deer and bighorn sheep. The total area of this park will be 4,538 hectares.
Kikomun Creek Provincial Park addition (17 hectares).
- Located on Koocanusa Lake southeast of Cranbrook. The additional land featuring a wetland and small lake secures an inholding that was completely encompassed within the park boundaries and was identified as a priority shortly after the park’s establishment in 1972. The total area of this park will be 699 hectares.
Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Provincial Park addition (4 acres).
- Located northeast of Kaslo near the community of Birchdale. The park is home to at least 90 species of birds and several animals. The addition will provide an important habitat connection to the larger portion of the park. The total area of this park will be 198,120 hectares.