A national park in the South Okanagan-Similkameen will create a lasting legacy for future generations to enjoy – a place where plants and animals thrive. 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 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 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:
|National Park||Provincial Park|
|Government funding||$7 to 10 million per year||Around $40,000 per year|
|Provincial GDP added||$37 million per year||Very little|
|Direct jobs||20-25 full time and permanent jobs per park||One employee per 20 parks|
|Community jobs||An estimated 572 full time and permanent jobs||Very few|
|Endangered species protection & restoration (there are currently 57 listed species at risk in the South Okanagan-Similkameen)||Required by federal law||No legal protection|
|Source: Economic Impacts of National Parks, the Outspan Group, April 2011|