Gulf Islands National Park got a major boost after it was announced that new protected lands on Pender, Saturna and Prevost Islands had been added to the reserve.
During a press conference at the Gulf Islands National Park office in Sidney on Oct. 12, Michelle Rempel, member of parliament for Calgary Centre-North and parliament secretary to the Minister of the Environment (Peter Kent), announced the expansion and the benefits it will have for the area.
“I am thrilled to announce that more spectacular coastal habitat will be added to Gulf Islands National Park Reserve which sits on the doorstep of Vancouver and Victoria,” Rempel said.
“I know Canadians and visitors from around the world will have incredible experiences in this special place for generations to come.
“This just builds on our government’s commitment to ensure that conservation is on the top of our agenda when it comes to the environment and this (expansion) adds to our protected park lands in the country, which is an over 50 per cent increase since 2006. We’re very proud (of that).”
Gulf Islands National Park is 36 square kilometres of land spread over 15 Gulf Islands and small reefs. The government added about 101 hectares more, costing about $6.35 million for three parcels, two on North Pender and one on Prevost Island.
Environment Canada transferred a 65-hectare parcel on Saturna Island for free to Parks Canada, making up the bulk of the new federal parkland.
Rempel noted that some of the new land will ensure that more of Canada’s rare Garry oak ecosystem is protected.
The new properties are a mix of waterfront and forested areas, including more than 2,700 metres of shoreline.
Rempel said the expansion will eventually lead to the development of new hiking trails, day-use areas and picnic areas and walk-in or boat-in camping sites.
All of the purchased lands were acquired from willing sellers or donors.