The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen is holding a series of public information meetings to outline changes to Environmentally Sensitive Development Permits, as well as gather public feedback on the establishment of a nature conservation fund.
Since 2009, RDOS has been working in partnership with the South Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Program to create the biodiversity strategy, Keeping Nature in Our Future. Completed in 2013, the strategy refines information on sensitive areas in the RDOS and makes up-to-date recommendations for critical directions and opportunities for conservation and stewardship.
“Based on the updated information coming out of Keeping Nature in Our Future we wanted to refine and improve the science-based ESDPs for clarity and consistency,” RDOS planning supervisor Christopher Garrish said in a statement.
“We were delighted to work with the SOSCP on this very important strategy for the long-term health and sustainability of this region.”
ESDPs have been used in the RDOS since 1997 to assess the impact of development on the natural environment and help protect ecosystems and biological diversity. The upcoming meetings will provide information on how ESPDs will continue to benefit our region and outline the refined ESDP areas with updated mapping and guidance.
A second initiative that came out of Keeping Nature in Our Future is the need for increased financing to protect important environmental values through the establishment of a local conservation fund.
Conservation funds are dedicated sources of revenue held by a regional district or municipality for the specific purpose of undertaking conservation projects. Several B.C. communities such as Central Okanagan Regional District, Regional District of Central Kootenay and Regional District of East Kootenay have had great success with local conservation funds.
“Without a doubt we live in one of the most spectacularly beautiful regions in the world,” said SOSCP program manager Bryn White.
“Our natural environment contributes greatly to our enjoyment and quality of life, including essential resources and services. A healthy environment ensures clean air and water, rich soils, pest control, fire prevention and pollination, among many other benefits. These natural assets are at risk of being lost forever, and along with them, the benefits they provide to our economy and our communities.”
A tentative schedule for the upcoming public information sessions follows:
• Dec. 2, Area F: West Bench Elementary School, 6-8 p.m.
• Dec. 8, Area D, Okanagan Falls Community Centre, 5 - 7 p.m.
• Dec. 14, Area A, Sonora Centre, Osoyoos, 5 - 7 p.m.
• Jan. 11, Area E, Old Age Pensions Hall, Naramata, 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.
For those unable to attend, additional information is available online at both: www.rdos.bc.ca and www.soscp.org.