Finance Committee recommends moving forward on creation of SOS national park reserve


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Finance Committee recommends B.C. work with federal government on creation of South Okanagan-Similkameen national park reserve

Vancouver/ Kaleden, B.C. - Last Friday, the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services released the Report on the Budget Consultations for 2015, and recommended that the provincial government re-engage with the federal government and local stakeholders in their efforts to establish a national park reserve in the South Okanagan-Similkameen, citing benefits such as new jobs, increased tourism, First Nations opportunities, and economic diversification.

“This is a very positive step forward. We are thrilled that the high levels of local support for the park are being recognized, along with the economic benefits it can deliver,”  said Doreen Olson, Coordinator, South Okanagan-Similkameen National Park Network.

Several groups, including the Greater Westside Board of Trade, the South Okanagan Chamber of Commerce, and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society - BC Chapter (CPAWS-BC), voiced support for the park in their submissions to the Committee at the end of September.

“This recommendation, in addition to recent resolutions passed by the Union of BC Municipalities and the BC Chamber of Commerce in support of the park, clearly indicates that the time is right to move forward,” said Peter Wood, CPAWS-BC.

The South Okanagan Similkameen region contains Canada’s only pocket desert, constituting one of the most threatened ecosystems in Canada. The area is home to nearly 60 federally-listed endangered species and serves as a migration stop for countless songbirds. Creating a national park here will provide protection for a unique and incredibly diverse ecological region of Canada. In February 2013, local First Nations expressed support for moving forward with the park, following extensive consultation of local communities.

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Contact:
Doreen Olson, Coordinator, South Okanagan-Similkameen National Park Network
Ph: 250-497-6869

Peter Wood, Director of Terrestrial Campaigns, CPAWS-BC
Ph: 604-761-3075


Links:
CPAWS-BC: http://www.cpawsbc.org/campaigns/south-okanagan-similkameen

SOSNPN: http://sosnationalpark.wordpress.com/

The Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services website: http://www.leg.bc.ca/cmt/finance/

Full report:
http://www.leg.bc.ca/cmt/40thParl/session-3/fgs/reports/PDF/Rpt-FGS-40-3-Report-on-Budget-2015-Consultations-2014-NOV-13.pdf

Relevant excerpt (p. 35, 37):

South Okanagan Similkameen National Park
Support was expressed during the consultations for the creation of a National Park Reserve in the South Okanagan-Lower Similkameen region, which has been described as one of the most important ecosystems in the world and home to nearly 60 federally-listed endangered species. The proposed national park, which is supported by the federal government and requires provincial support to proceed, has been the subject of feasibility studies and local consultations.
Several groups, including the South Okanagan Similkameen National Park Network, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society – BC Chapter, and the Greater Westside Board of Trade and South Okanagan Chamber of Commerce, voiced support for the project in their submissions to the Committee. The potential economic benefits of the proposed park were cited as including new jobs, tourism, First Nations opportunities, and economic diversification. They also stated that the cost of establishing the park would be borne by the federal government.

Recommendation  56: Work with the federal government and local stakeholders to assess the feasibility of and support for the establishment of a new national park in the South Okanagan-Similkameen.