VICTORIA – Nearly 276, 000 hectares was added to the BC Parks system through legislation introduced on Feb. 14, announced Environment Minister Terry Lake.
Bill 5 – the Protected Areas of British Columbia Amendment Act, 2013 adds new parks and conservancies and expands the Mount Maxwell ecological reserve, which is home to the rare Coastal Douglas-fir ecosystem.
It entrenches in law protected area recommendations reached through multi-stakeholder and public land-use planning processes, as well as government-to-government agreements with First Nations, while at the same time supporting economic development.
“The B.C. government has been establishing parks and protected areas for more than a century,” said Lake. “Through this legislation we are helping to protect our environment, including spawning habitat for sockeye salmon and a unique mineral source used by mountain caribou and other wildlife, which is the result of an extensive land-use planning process we have undertaken with First Nations, stakeholders and the public.”
Central to the legislation is the Cariboo-Chilcotin Land-Use Plan Goal 2 process related to special natural, cultural and recreational features which results in the establishment of 17 new Class A parks and additions to five existing Class A parks in the region.
The establishment of the Ne’áh’ and Hanna-Tintina conservancies in the northwest of the province also are hallmarks of the bill while private land acquisitions result in two new parks; Denman Island Park and Gerald Island Park.
Support for economic development projects, including a key BC Hydro upgrade that is expected to generate two thousand person years of employment over five years on Vancouver Island and a proposed corrections facility in the Interior is also facilitated by Bill 5.
B.C.’s total provincial protected areas system is 13,986,106 hectares – the third-largest in North America (after the Canadian and the U.S. national park systems) and the largest provincial/territorial parks system in Canada.
Class A parks provide the highest level of protection of recreation and conservation values of all parks. Conservancies explicitly recognize the importance of the area to First Nations for social, ceremonial and cultural uses.