The South Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Program (SOSCP) is pleased to announce that after a successful public assent process in December of 2016, the Regional District Okanagan Similkameen (RDOS)  has approved an Environmental Conservation Service bylaw that is the basis for establishing the South Okanagan Conservation Fund. With public opposition less than 1% the RDOS moved to adopted the bylaw, which will requisition up to a maximum of $450,000 each year towards conservation efforts to protect natural areas within the participating areas of Summerland, Penticton, Oliver and RDOS Electoral areas A, C D E and F.

The South Okanagan Conservation Fund is held and overseen by the RDOS in a dedicated account earmarked for conservation only. Community groups and organizations apply to the Conservation Fund to support their environmental conservation projects. Local government decision makers make the final decisions related to expenditures.

SOSCP has been engaged to assist with the administration of the granting process, and a committee of technical experts with clearly established criteria will also help ensure that projects proposed are technically sound, and contribute to important conservation goals.

The RDOS was recognized with an award of excellence for establishing the South Okanagan Conservation Fund, by a working group of local governments from across BC and the BC Ministry of Environment that have been collaborating to enhance the protection of species and habitats at risk.

This is the first year the award has been offered to acknowledge the efforts of local governments in protecting biodiversity. For their role in fulfilling that mandate, SOSCP Program Manager Bryn White did not hesitate to nominate the RDOS.

SOSCP presented the award on behalf of the working group to the RDOS Board at their February 16th Board meeting.

“We are thrilled the RDOS Board has deservedly won the very first SEAR-LGWG Award,” says White. “The RDOS Board and staff has shown great leadership with the establishment of the South Okanagan Conservation Fund. This innovative Fund will protect species and ecosystems for generations to come. It also will work regionally across electoral area and municipal borders, engaging all citizens of the South Okanagan to come together to protect the wonderful region in which we live, work and raise our families. Their vision will leave a significant legacy for nature and a positive future for our communities.”

From right to left: RDOS Board Chair Karla Kozakevich, SOSCP Program Manager Bryn White, and SOSCP Chair and Nature Trust of BC Okanagan Land Coordinator Nick Burdock.