The Province has announced that planning discussions to achieve the objectives outlined in the Province’s proposal to protect lands in the South Okanagan are moving forward with the support and participation of the Lower Similkameen Indian Band, Penticton Indian Band and Osoyoos Indian Band, which are the three Okanagan Nation communities most affected by the proposal.
The Province’s proposal was presented in an intentions paper issued in August 2015, seeking public feedback on how land may be protected in the South Okanagan. The Ministry of Environment carefully reviewed the feedback received from the public engagement, which drew more than 3,400 submissions. From there, the ministry engaged directly with the three Okanagan Nation communities regarding the priorities identified in the plan.
The plan addresses three distinct areas in the region:
- Area 1 – Portions of the area west of Osoyoos towards the Similkameen River, and south of Highway 3 to the U.S. border including the Osoyoos Desert Centre, the lands around Spotted Lake, and portions of the South Okanagan Grasslands Protected Area sites of East and West Chopaka and South Kilpoola.
- Area 2 – Portions of the area west of Oliver towards Cawston, and north of Highway 3 to the southerly extent of the White Lake Grasslands Protected Area.
- Area 3 – Portions of the White Lake basin area south of Okanagan Falls and including areas in the vicinity of Vaseux Lake.
The plan describes objectives for these three distinct areas. Area 2, will be targeted for protection as a conservancy under provincial legislation, the Park Act. The remaining two areas, Area 1 and Area 3, will be the subject of discussion among the Province, the three Okanagan Nation communities and Parks Canada for possible inclusion in a South Okanagan National Park Reserve (NPR). If these areas do not prove feasible as a NPR then the Province is prepared to open discussions with the three Okanagan Nation communities, to protect these areas using the tools under the Park Act.
The Province will continue to work closely with the three Okanagan Nation communities in a government-to-government process to further develop details of the plan, and will seek to engage with the federal government, along with the three Okanagan Nation communities, around the potential for NPR designation specific to areas 1 and 3.
A number of factors will be considered when developing the final plan, including Okanagan First Nation values and cultural sites, protection of species at risk, recreational users and protection of ranching and existing grazing tenures.
Mary Polak, Environment Minister –
“I look forward to continue working with the area First Nations to ensure lands in the South Okanagan are protected. I know the South Okanagan is a unique area that holds a special place for many people, and I am pleased plans are moving forward to protect this beautiful region for future generations.”
Linda Larson, MLA for Boundary-Similkameen –
“I’m pleased the proposal for South Okanagan is moving forward, and that protecting this special region is a priority. Thank you to British Columbians who took the time to let us know what values were most important to them. The South Okanagan is a unique area that encompasses many features, including geographic and cultural values, as well as recreation and tourism opportunities.”
To view Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada's statement on South Okanagan, visit:
Media RelationsMinistry of Environment