A trail along Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park, southeast of Kelowna. Photo: Tourism BC

A trail along Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park, southeast of Kelowna. Photo: Tourism BC

Protecting natural habitat: Okanagan provincial park expands its borders

19 hectares of protected land has been added to Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park in Kelowna

Protected B.C. parks are expanding, including one in Kelowna.

Proposed amendments to the Protected Areas of British Columbia Act will expand B.C.’s parks and protected areas system, adding approximately 107 hectares of new land to six existing parks, including 19 hectares to Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park.

READ MORE: Myra-Bellevue park expanding

To reflect ancestral connections and support reconciliation efforts, the amendments also include renaming John Dean Park to ȽÁU,WELṈEW̱/John Dean Park, which means “place of refuge” in the language of the W̱SÁNEĆ people, according to the province in a news release.

“Giving this park a traditional Indigenous name connects us all with the original history and cultures of our province and supports ongoing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples throughout B.C.,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “I was moved when I received a number of letters from young Indigenous students who all requested this change and expressed so clearly the meaning it would have for them. This legislation also expands our parks and strengthens protection of sensitive lands, so British Columbians will be able to enjoy beautiful natural spaces for years to come.”

READ MORE: Public must add private property to Myra Bellevue park

The proposed additions are the result of private land acquisitions and include:

• 29 hectares to Bridge Lake Provincial Park in the Cariboo region;

• 2.5 hectares to Harmony Islands Marine Provincial Park along the Sunshine Coast;

• 17 hectares to Kikomun Creek Provincial Park in the Kootenays;

• 19 hectares to Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park in the Okanagan;

• Four hectares to Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Provincial Park in the Kootenays;

• 35 hectares to Syringa Provincial Park near Castlegar.

The amendments will also replace boundary descriptions with official plans for two ecological reserves (Gilnockie Creek and Trout Creek) and three parks (Conkle Lake, Jewel Lake and Johnston Creek). Official plans provide a clearer description of where the parks or protected area boundaries are located, leading to less chance of unintentional trespassing, the release said.

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In addition, a minor administrative correction will be made to the boundary description of McDonald Creek Provincial Park and a new official plan has been prepared for Fintry Provincial Park to reflect a boundary modification completed in spring 2018, the release said.

One of the largest park systems in North America, British Columbia has 1,033 provincial parks, recreation areas, conservancies, ecological reserves and protected areas covering more than 14 million hectares, or approximately 14.4 per cent of the provincial land base. The majority of provincial parks in the system are Class A – lands dedicated to the preservation of their natural environment and for public use and enjoyment.

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