Funding Conservation

A healthy environment sustains the diversity of nature and is critical to our economies and communities – providing clean water, air, natural spaces and quality of life.

The South Okanagan Similkameen is a special place. 

a toddler drinking water from a garden hose

Our natural environment contributes greatly to our quality of life. Healthy lands ensure clean air and water, sustain fish and wildlife habitat, provide working lands for agriculture and resources and create natural spaces for people to enjoy.

Unfortunately, our natural areas are diminishing and are at risk of being lost forever. Action is needed now to invest in healthy lands so they will continue to sustain us.

The newly established South Okanagan Conservation Fund will help communities ensure the sustainability of nature and protect our quality of life now, and for the future.


Conservation Funds are dedicated funds requisitioned and held by a local governments for the specific purpose of undertaking conservation projects.


Nature conservation can be considered a service provided by local and regional governments, similar to services like recreation, libraries, waste management, sewer and water. Conservation Funds are generated by annual contributions made by households through a property levy.

The RDOS Board has approved the establishment of an Environmental Conservation Service Bylaw for the South Okanagan that is the basis for the Fund. This bylaw will requisition a maximum of $450,000 per year for conservation in the communities of Summerland, Penticton, Oliver and rural electoral areas A, C, D, E and F.

To read more about the Terms of Reference for the Conservation Fund click here.


Several BC regions such as the Central Okanagan, Vancouver Island and East & Central Kootenays have had great success with local Conservation Funds. Some funds are solely focused on the acquisition and management of park lands, others have a more broad mandate to address an array of objectives for biodiversity and sustainability. 


Community groups and organizations apply to the Conservation Fund to support their environmental conservation projects.

One of the biggest benefits of a Conservation Fund is that money from the fund can be used to attract additional funding from other private, provincial and federal sources and provide even greater benefit to our economy and communities.

Balsom root or blck eyes susans-Kevin DunnWHO HOLDS AND MANAGES THE FUND?

The South Okanagan Conservation Fund is held and overseen by the RDOS in a dedicated account earmarked for conservation only. SOSCP has been engaged to assist with administration of the fund, and an arms-length Technical Advisory Committee will be established shortly. 


The bylaw is detailed in its description so that it cannot be directed to non-conservation projects.


For now, the communities of Summerland, Penticton, Oliver and the rural electoral areas of A, C, D, E and F are part of the South Okanagan Conservation Fund. 


Since this Fund is generated through local government service bylaws, local government decision makers make the final decisions related to expenditures.  SOSCP will 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 contribute to important conservation goals.

IMG_5768- Leslie- Osoyoos Times


The South Okanagan Similkameen is one of the four most endangered areas in Canada. The Fund is in support of undertaking and administering activities, projects, and works that include, but are not limited to, water, environment, wildlife, land and habitat conservation efforts to protect natural areas within the participating areas of the RDOS. The themes for the Fund address top public environmental issues including conservation of water quality and quantity stewardship, (aquatic ecosystems, surface and groundwater), protection, enhancement and restoration of sensitive terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, wildlife species (including those at risk), and habitat for native fish and wildlife.


The South Okanagan Conservation Fund is not part of a proposed National Park. A Conservation Fund is a separate, practical tool for local communities to fund and accomplish a variety of sustainability objectives.



The South Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Program (SOSCP) is a partnership of 50 government and non-government organizations that have been working together since 2000 to conserve nature for South Okanagan and Similkameen communities.

SOSCP partners make significant investments in conservation projects each year:

  • We help private landowners care for nature on their private lands.
  • We secure and restore lands with important ecological values for the purpose of keeping nature in our future.
  • We work with First Nations’ Traditional Ecological Knowledge Keepers.
  • We use science to inform sustainable land use decisions, management actions and to establish conservation priorities.
  • We provide sustainable land use information and resources to decision makers.
  • We engage the community in learning about, and experiencing nature.

Here's what people are saying about the Conservation Fund.

  1. It is heartening to see ecological values and services being recognized at the local government level, and I am glad to see the development of this tool to empower all of us to conserve the area we love so much. I am hopeful that the people of the Okanagan Similkameen will see this modest sum -equal to two cups of coffee at Starbucks- as a worthy investment in our future.

    Angelique Wood   2:52 pm on January 13th, 2016
  2. In Hedley, within Area G of the RDOS, volunteers have spent hours and personal resources removing waste and educating the community about illegal wilderness dumping. We have also built this blog to track our activities and to encourage dialogue around the issue of preserving our natural environment: I know that many, many of us in the Hedley area support the idea of a conservation fund, even if our Director for the RDOS voted against!

    Lydia Sawicki   1:17 pm on January 13th, 2016
  3. I very much support the idea of a fund. $10 seems a reasonable amount. The Fund might sponsor or lead on the establishment of a plan for the removal or remediation of the mine tailings surrounding Hedley and flowing down to the Similkameen, involving the federal, provincial, and regional governments, First Nations, Barrick, and others who would bring something to the table.

    Robin   12:33 pm on January 13th, 2016
  4. I strongly support a conservation fund and would like to make the following suggestions:
    1. Request the Meadowlark Nature Festival to levy a $1 conservation charge on all event participants,
    2. Solicit charitable donations from local naturalist and outdoor clubs, or their members,
    3. Establish a non-governmental advisory committee to ensure that any project proposed to this fund contributes to one or more conservation goals in the South Okanagan-Similkameen; technical experts not on the committee could be invited to speak to it.
    4. Notwithstanding rejection of a conservation fund by the RDOS, there still is merit in drafting a legal framework for “how” and “where” any donated money should be used.
    The momentum and good will must not be lost by what is only a temporary a set-back.

    Allan Garland   3:10 pm on December 28th, 2015
  5. Yes, the Lower Nipit Improvement District and the Greater Twin Lakes Stewardship Society executives support such a fund. In our area we have 7 wetlands on the NW part of the Twin Lakes Waterway – from Orifino Mountain’s Horn Creek beginning at 5000 ft above sea level going west and north to Marron Lake which we know empties into the Marron River and eventually enters Skaha Lake via a culvert under Hwy. 97 just before OK Falls. On the eastside some water from the Twin Lakes Waterway enters Park Rill, where there are several wetland areas, and moves just S. around White Lake, to Meyers Flat and onto Seacrest Rd. and the Rifle Range area and onto the Okanagan River after moving under Hwy. 97. This whole area needs conservation/protecting as groundwater at Twin Lakes and St. Andrews is already allocated. The ” #261 aquifer is an at risk aquifer”. Without water there will be no grasslands or species at risk to protect. A $5 to $10 conservation tax is reasonable. We would ask though that conservation funds not all go to the urban areas. Please consider that the rural areas still have the habitat, but are at great risk of development pressures. The recent OCP for D1 has listed Twin Lakes and St. Andrews for potential development. Land Use documents so far are not protecting the environment. Maps in the OCP’s should be wholistic – state where the precious wetlands and waterways are. The SOSCP completed the Ecosensitive Mapping in 2010, but it is relegated to the Eco Cat of the MoE. How could this happen?

    Coral Brown   7:29 am on December 16th, 2015
  6. I think this is an excellent idea, particularly given that we live in an area that has high value biodiversity as well as rapid suburban growth and development.

    A local conservation fund would also allow us to bring in more outside funding, by using conservation funds as matching dollars.

    A local conservation fund, administered by local people, would ensure that fund dollars are spent wisely and appropriately.
    Don Gayton, M.Sc, P.Ag

    Don Gayton   3:26 pm on November 27th, 2015
  7. Welcome to the Conservation Fund proposal for the South Okanagan Similkameen – a dedicated source of revenue for communities to meet their own environmental protection needs. We are looking forward to hearing from you.

    Bryn, SOSCP Program Manager

    Bryn White   9:34 am on November 23rd, 2015

We would like to hear your comments!

Do you support the idea of a conservation fund? How much per year would you be willing to contribute to a conservation fund? Are there local projects you see as a priority in your region? Any other ideas or comments?

* SOSCP reserves the right to edit comments for length.

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The South Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Program (SOSCP)
and local government partners are exploring the idea of a conservation
fund in our region and are interested
in hearing from residents.

Comment Here


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