Green MP and leader Elizabeth May calls for final approval of a new National Park in BC’s South Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys

Elizabeth May, Green Party
leader and MP for Saanich-Gluf-Islands, is calling for final approval of a new
national park in the South Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys in southern BC. May
is supporting the federal government in its bid for a new national park in the
region, and is calling on the BC government to finalize approval of the park’s

“A new national park in
the South Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys in southern BC would be a real gift
to the local people and to all Canadians for which future generations will be
most grateful,” stated Ms. May. “It would be a first-rate national park in
every way – in protecting Canada’s most endangered ecosystems and species, in
helping to support and promote local First Nations cultures, and in attracting
and generating significant revenues and jobs into the region like all national
parks do in southern Canada. After 8 years of study, it’s high time this park
proposal receive final approval.”

The creation of new
national parks requires the approval of both federal and provincial
governments. The BC and federal governments signed a Memorandum of
Understanding in 2003 to examine the feasibility of a new national park in the
South Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys in BC. Since then, numerous studies and
public consultations have taken place, showing major local and regional support
for the national park.

Parks Canada has a mandate
to establish at least one national park in each of Canada’s 39 terrestrial
natural regions. Currently there is no national park to represent the Interior
Dry Plateau natural region of BC, characterized by Ponderosa pine and interior
Douglas fir forests, grasslands, and semi-desert in the South Okanagan Valley.
The area is filled with unique wildlife and species at risk, as well as the
highly endangered “pocket desert” ecosystem near Osoyoos.

Besides helping to sustain
the local ecosystems, First Nations, and economy, a national park in the region
would also bring in additional fire management staff and resources to keep
communities safer from wildfires. Parks Canada is one of the foremost agencies
in Canada with an expertise in the science and management of wildfires through
controlled burns and fuel reduction methods.

“This national park
proposal is a great example of cross-partisan federal support. It was first
initiated by the federal Liberal government, supported by the subsequent
Conservative government through Parks Canada, supported by the federal NDP, and
is certainly is supported by the Green Party. I hope this first rate proposal
will now receive its final approval from the province of BC for what will only
be a winning initiative for all Canadians.”


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