A national park reserve in the South Okanagan-Similkameen will be a lasting legacy for future generations to enjoy – a place where plants and animals thrive and the local economy is boosted. It will provide a safe-haven for the threatened species who are quickly losing their habitat in the face of unprecedented development. Establishing a national park in the South Okanagan-Similkameen will also have significant benefits for both the local and Provincial economy. Across BC national parks have proven their ability to generate millions of dollars in revenue, create long-term job opportunities and promote visitor spending, as documented in a 2010 report by the Outspan Group (The Economic Value of Parks Canada). The diversification of the local economy is expected to support employment opportunities for young families in the area, and will contribute to maintaining the viability of local schools, hotels, and other services. In addition, designating this area as a national park reserve would guarantee local and public access to the land.
Why not a provincial park instead?
In Canada, national parks provide the highest level of habitat protection. We want a national park reserve to protect this important conservation area because it provides a greater amount of national resources and funding that will be put towards the maintenance and management of the environment. On average, a Canadian national park receives over $8 million a year in funding.
Recently there have been some legal changes around around the protection of provincial parks. With the passing of Bill 4, the provincial government is now able to permit industrial exploration. For this reason, provincial parks are not currently as well protected as national parks, which afford a greater level of protection.
Here are some differences between a national and provincial park:
A national park designation is the best way we can preserve this area for future generations.
The South Okanagan-Similkameen has the greatest number of animals at risk of any place in Canada. There are 23 species on the Red List in BC, including the Tiger Salamander, Lark Sparrow and Prairie Falcon and 35 Blue Listed species, including Canyon Wren, Spotted Bat and California Big Horn Sheep.
As a Canadian national park, this place will be preserved and become a natural representation of one of Canada’s diverse environments. Parks Canada is organized on behalf of Canadians to “protect and present nationally significant examples of Canada’s natural and cultural heritage and foster public understanding, appreciation and enjoyment in ways that ensure their ecological and commemorative integrity for present and future generations” (Parks Canada Mandate). The national park designation would bring in large amounts of funding and resources from the federal government to ensure that this precious environment is rightfully protected.
The economic benefits of the National Park Reserve in the South Okanagan will be highly significant. According to a report released by the South Okanagan-Similkameen National Park Steering Committee a national park in the South Okanagan would produce $72.0 million in investments, $56.3 million in income, and $39.9 million in government tax revenue. The park would create 832 full time equivalent jobs. and would draw as many as 300,000 visitors annually.
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