Nat'l park consultation ends

Parks Canada has closed the public consultation period for the proposed South Okanagan national park reserve.

The agency says 2,740 online submissions were made and 36 meetings held with stakeholder groups between Dec. 10, 2018 and March 15, 2019 — a window that included a two-week extension by the federal government.

“The Governments of Canada and British Columbia along with the Syilx/Okanagan Nation would like to thank local residents, stakeholders, and the Canadian public, who participated in the consultations,” a news release Friday says.

The idea of a South Okanagan national park remains controversial among local residents. Polling commissioned by a group opposed to the park last year showed residents of Oliver, Osoyoos, Keremeos and Cawston split on the proposal, with 76 per cent hoping for a referendum on the issue.

Opponents to the park are concerned about loss of access to the backcountry as well as hunting and grazing rights.

While formal public consultation has closed, Parks Canada says it will continue to engage with specific stakeholders and private landholders on the proposal. They have yet to hold any sort of public forum or town hall on the issue.

Parks Canada says it is now preparing a “What we Heard” report which will be shared with the public in the coming months.

“The report will include a summary and analysis of the results of the consultation, which will inform future recommendations regarding the proposed national park reserve,” Parks Canada says.

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