Environment Minister Mary Polak introduced legislation today that, if passed, will add more than 1,500 hectares to B.C.’s protected areas system, one of the largest in North America.
Bill 8 - the Protected Areas of British Columbia Amendment Act, 2015, adds land to six parks, increases public safety along Highway 3, and makes administrative changes to clarify legal descriptions.
“B.C.’s treasured and world-renowned parks system continues to grow,” said Polak. “By way of this legislation, successful community and First Nation partnerships are being realized, helping to expand our parks, create more recreational opportunities, increase public safety and further protect B.C.’s beautiful and natural spaces for future generations.”
More than half of the new additions come in the form of private land acquisitions, including the successful multi-partner Quadra Island deal. Announced in March 2014, this acquisition connects Octopus Islands and Small Inlet marine parks together, further protecting unique and sensitive ecosystems.
Other private land acquisitions adding to the parks system through this legislation include 1,219 hectares to West Arm Park in the Kootenays and 109 hectares of land to Bodega Ridge Park on Galiano Island. 38 hectares of marine foreshore are also being added to Bodega Ridge Park.
The boundaries of E.C. Manning Park are changing slightly, with the removal of two hectares of park land near Highway 3 to allow for the replacement of the Cambie Creek bridges, addressing health and safety concerns. Three hectares of land with high conservation values from an unused highway right-of-way along the Skagit River are being added to the park.
The boundary descriptions of Megin River Ecological Reserve, as well as Carmanah Walbran, Strathcona, Sulphur Passage, Wells Gray and White Ridge provincial parks are being clarified through legally mapped boundaries, which are more understandable.
If passed, this legislation solidifies an agreement between the Osoyoos Indian Band (OIB) and the Province to officially rename two provincial parks of significant cultural value within OIB traditional territory. Haynes Point and Okanagan Falls provincial parks will officially be known by their traditional First Nations’ names.
These amendments assist government in meeting a number of commitments made to partners and vendors respecting land acquisitions, as well as strategic agreements with First Nations.
A backgrounder follows.
Ministry of Environment
Descriptions of expanded Class A parks (in alphabetical order)
Bodega Ridge Park addition (147 hectares):
The addition to this park is the result of two private land acquisitions totalling 109 hectares, and a foreshore addition of 38 hectares. The additions extend the park across the width of Galiano Island, located in the southern Gulf Islands. The park protects sensitive ecosystems, riparian areas, important habitat and sensitive shoreline area. The park additions are within the relatively rare Coastal Douglas-fir biogeoclimatic zone. Popular hiking trails extend through the new lands, leading to enhanced recreational opportunities. The marine foreshore additions provide increased protection to the natural, cultural and recreational marine values. The total area of Bodega Ridge Park will be 397 hectares (321 hectares of upland and 76 hectares of foreshore).
Denman Island Park addition (2 hectares):
The addition to this park is the result of the administrative transfer of Crown lands from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations to the Ministry of Environment. The site is the highest point on Denman Island, located off the east coast of Vancouver Island, and was once home to a BC Forest Service lookout tower. This hilltop location offers recreational opportunities for hikers, providing excellent views of Baynes Sound and the Beaufort Range on Vancouver Island. The total area of Denman Island Park will be 561 hectares.
E. C. Manning Park addition (3.2 hectares):
The addition of 3.2 hectares to this park makes up for the deletion of approximately two hectares, enabling the replacement of three bridges on Highway 3. This addition is from an unused highway right-of-way along the Skagit River. These lands contain high conservation values, including old growth forest and riparian plant communities. The park is located in the heart of the Cascade Mountains, within a three hour drive from either the Lower Mainland or the Okanagan. The total area of E. C. Manning Park will be 83,671 hectares.
Octopus Islands Marine Park addition (86 hectares) and Small Inlet Marine Park addition (84 hectares):
The additions to Octopus Islands and Small Inlet marine parks are the result of a private land acquisition on Quadra Island linking these parks together. A number of partners contributed to the purchase including Merrill & Ring Forestry L.P.; BC Marine Parks Forever Society and Save the Heart of Quadra Parks; and Vancity Community Foundation, supported by Vancity Credit Union. The additions protect unique and sensitive ecosystems, as well as improve access for recreational opportunities including boating, kayaking, fishing, wilderness camping and hiking. Important archaeological sites and a historic portage route that runs across the new additions from Small Inlet to the west (in Small Inlet Marine Park) to Waiatt Bay to the east (in Octopus Islands Marine Park) are protected. The total area of Octopus Islands Marine Park, located on the northeast side of Quadra Island, will be 862 hectares (404 hectares of upland and 458 hectares of foreshore). The total area of Small Inlet Marine Park, located on the northern tip of Quadra Island, will be 878 hectares (753 hectares of upland and 125 hectares of foreshore).
West Arm Park addition (1,219 hectares):
The addition to the park is the result of a private land acquisition in 2005. The addition protects old growth forests, critical habitat for the South Selkirk Mountain Caribou population, and the headwaters of Kutetl Creek. The South Selkirk Mountain Caribou population is a small declining herd of Woodland Caribou, estimated to be around 18 animals. The park extends along the shore of Kootenay Lake from Nelson to Harrop, and up to the peaks behind. The total area of West Arm Park will be 26,199 hectares.
Ministry of Environment