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‘Not up for reconsideration’

The provincial government is not backing down on its intention to ensure part of proposed South Okanagan park land be protected provincially.

This comes after a Wilderness Committee freedom-of-information request brought to light documents which show widespread public support for including the area around Mount Kobau in a federal reserve, according to the group.

However, in an email statement, the B.C. Ministry of Environment said opinions do vary in the province.

“It is clear that there are very strong opinions on both sides of this issue,” the ministry said. “Therefore, the province is looking for a solution that respects the diversity of opinion, but ultimately achieves the desired goal of effectively protecting important environmental and cultural values in the region.”

The Province is maintaining its position, stating that Parks Canada’s 2010 proposal for a single national park in the area, including area two, which surrounds Mount Kobau, and two others in the South Okanagan, “is not up for reconsideration.”

The email points toward an intentions paper released by the B.C. government in August 2015, which the ministry said looked at how to properly preserve the area.

That paper indicated that large sections of the land in question would be protected under provincial legislation, rather than federally.

“The intentions paper was intended to gather feedback on the proposed framework – it was not designed as a poll,” the ministry said. “More than 3,400 submissions were received providing feedback on the intentions paper.”

The ministry said the process of deliberating the specifics of the proposed parkland is still underway, including meetings with local First Nations and local communities.

“Through this process, we are ensuring the protection of the South Okanagan’s geographic and cultural values, while providing recreation and tourism opportunities,” the email said.

The ministry noted that feedback is being considered as it develops its final proposal, which is slated for later this year.

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