A new provincial park on southern Vancouver Island will soon be established to protect a vital ecosystem important to the Cowichan people, honouring Indigenous cultural and spiritual history, and aiding in the conservation of threatened species.
Legislation has been introduced to establish a new 143-hectare Class A park near the Koksilah River in the Cowichan Valley. To recognize Indigenous connections in two other provincial parks, Chilliwack Lake Park will be renamed Sxótsaqel / Chilliwack Lake Park (Skot-sa-qel), and Newcastle Island Marine Park will be renamed Saysutshun (Newcastle Island Marine) Park (SAY-sut-shun).
“Establishing this new park strengthens protection of these sensitive lands and ecosystems that provide important habitat for vulnerable and threatened wildlife species, such as Roosevelt elk, western screech owl and northern goshawk,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “We are expanding and strengthening our parks and protected areas system to ensure these special places will be here for our children and grandchildren.”
Used by Cowichan people since time immemorial, the area of the new park includes pockets of old-growth Douglas fir forest, a sensitive grassland ecosystem, rare species of vascular plants, and limestone geological features. Cowichan Tribes have identified the name of the new park – Hwsalu-utsum (whSALA-utsum).
“Acknowledging Indigenous place names at provincial parks provides us with a deeper connection to the land’s history and culture, and supports ongoing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples,” said Kelly Greene, Parliamentary Secretary for Environment. “We are committed to working in partnership with First Nations to reflect Indigenous history and culture in provincial parks.”
The proposed legislative amendments to the Protected Areas of British Columbia Act would also add more than 2,258 hectares of land and/or foreshore to nine existing provincial parks and one conservancy. These consist of a combination of private land acquisitions, Crown land and foreshore additions.
Boundary modifications to enable land exchanges and make administrative corrections would also be made at Elk Falls Provincial Park near Campbell River, Peace River Corridor Park, Moberly Lake Park, the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Park and Goat Range Park.
Amendments to the Protected Areas of British Columbia Act are regularly required to add land to parks and conservancies, modify or correct boundaries and improve boundary descriptions.
- One of the largest park systems in North America, British Columbia has 1,036 provincial parks, recreation areas, conservancies, ecological reserves and protected areas covering more than 14 million hectares or approximately 14.4% of the provincial land base.
- B.C. has one of the highest percentages of its land base dedicated to protected areas of all provincial Canadian jurisdictions.
- The majority (629) of provincial parks in the system are Class A – lands dedicated for the preservation of their natural environment and for public use and enjoyment.
For a summary of the parks and protected areas system, visit: www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/about/park-designations.html
For more information about BC Parks, visit: www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks
A backgrounder follows.