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Environment minister to make announcement on proposed South Okanagan-Similkameen national park reserve

B.C. residents are awaiting an announcement on the proposed national park reserve in the South Okanagan-Similkameen that is set to take place on July 2. Parks Canada \ Province of B.C.

An announcement will be made next week regarding the proposed national park reserve in the South Okanagan and Similkameen, the federal government announced on Wednesday.

According to a Parks Canada press release, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, who is also the minister responsible for Parks Canada, will be making the announcement in Osoyoos on Tuesday, July 2.

Joining McKenna will be B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman, Chief Clarence Louie of the Osoyoos Indian Band and Chief Keith Crow of the Lower Similkameen Indian Band.

READ MORE: Efforts heat up to create a national park reserve in the south Okanagan

The gathering will take place at the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre.

The proposed national park reserve has been a contentious issue in the area, with plenty of support both for and against it.

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WATCH (May 14, 2019): Parks Canada shares results from proposed South Okanagan-Similkameen national park consultation

Click to play video 'Parks Canada shares results from proposed South Okanagan-Similkameen national park consultation' Parks Canada shares results from proposed South Okanagan-Similkameen national park consultation
Parks Canada shares results from proposed South Okanagan-Similkameen national park consultation – May 14, 2019

In late April, the South Okanagan-Similkameen Preservation Society held a public meeting to review what effect a national park would have on the area. Parks Canada officials did not attend the meeting, which attracted more than 200 people.

“There’s a lot of questions about budget and how much the park is going to cost taxpayers, how much it’s going to mean as far the people that are visiting the park and what the impact is,” South Okanagan-Similkameen Preservation Society spokesperson Lionel Trudel told Global News.

WATCH (March 5, 2019): Oliver, Osoyoos at odds over proposed national park referendum

Click to play video 'Oliver, Osoyoos at odds over proposed national park referendum' Oliver, Osoyoos at odds over proposed national park referendum
Oliver, Osoyoos at odds over proposed national park referendum – Mar 5, 2019

Meanwhile, South Okanagan-West Kootenay MP Richard Cannings is a proponent of the national park reserve.

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“If I speak for myself, I think a national park would be a wonderful thing here,” Cannings said at the April meeting. “It’s not only for the environment, it’s for the plants and animals of this area. This is a national treasure.

“We’re all very privileged to live in the South Okanagan and we have a responsibility for that.”

READ MORE: Group demands unbiased analysis of proposed Okanagan national park reserve

With files from Doris Maria Bregolisse