Acknowledging the Okanagan as a distinct ecosystem is garnering a political endorsement.
The Regional District of North Okanagan will ask the provincial government to work with the federal government and the Okanagan Nation Alliance to create a national park near Oliver and Osoyoos.
“It’s magical,” said Patrick Nicol, RDNO chairperson, of the Okanagan’s natural attributes compared to other parts of Canada. “We really deserve to have a national park in the area.”
The concept of a national park in the South Okanagan has existed for many years but the process stalled because of opposition from some residents, including ranchers who feared they would lose access to grazing land.
“The scope of the park has been reduced and that’s reduced the opposition from the ranchers,” said director Juliette Cunningham, who has discussed the issue with colleagues from the south end of the valley.
RDNO decided to get involved after being approached by the South Okanagan-Similkameen National Park Network.
“A new national park in the region will enhance tourism, business, and wineries; develop new jobs, encourage investment, and improve the economic well-being of the communities in the North Okanagan,” said Doreen Olson, SOS National Park Network co-ordinator.
RDNO has also asked senior levels of government that it be consulted during the national park establishment process.