July and August is a hot and exciting time to be in the Okanagan. Wildfires can get the adrenaline surging – but so can visionary ideas and leadership. On July 17th, the RDOS Planning and Development Committee moved to “approve in principle” the establishment of a Conservation Fund. This follows a motion from the City of Penticton Council on June 23rd to support the exploration of a Conservation Fund. SOSCP will be working with staff to obtain public opinion and further develop fund details as a team over the next many months.

The presentation made to the Committee by SOSCP highlighted the benefits of such fund including protecting special places for people and wildlife, ensuring clean air and water, restoring and enhancing the important natural areas and community values that contribute to the spectacular South Okanagan-Similkameen way of life.

What is clear in our conversations with decision-makers and community members around a conservation fund is that we need a significant financial goal to meet conservation needs, and the more participating areas to share in that, the better.

Past polling indicates strong support for a dedicated conservation fund in the region (86%). Residents willing to pay through their taxes quote an amount of $50 or less – with a greater emphasis on between $10 and 20. A number of scenarios for a regional fund here could rest between $9 and $13 per household.

The leadership shown today is exciting and I am looking forward to continuing to develop and explore the concept with our local government and conservation partners, and the communities that SOSCP serves.