Loyal Wooldridge. (RDCO/Submitted)Loyal Wooldridge. (RDCO/Submitted)

The Regional District of Central Okanagan gives a hoot about light pollution.

A more than 400-hectare park in the south end of Kelowna has been named a Nocturnal Preserve by the Royal Canadian Astronomical Society, only the third park in the country to receive the designation.

The society and the regional board came together on May 3 to tour Johns Family Nature Conservancy Regional Park to celebrate.

The goal of a Nocturnal Preserve is to protect the natural environment, insects and wildlife through limiting artificial light in the area.

Regional Board Chair Loyal Wooldridge said that the designation is a “fantastic addition” to the local parks system.

“It showcases our unwavering dedication to preserving our natural environment by protecting the sensitive ecosystems and species that depend on them…we can now ensure that artificial light is minimized, allowing the natural rhythms of light and darkness to take center stage.

“Visitors can now witness the beauty of the night sky, which is often lost in our ever-growing communities.”

It was in 2019 that the board approved a recommendation to seek the designation.

Board Director Jordan Coble, who is also a Westbank First National councillor, reflected on what the designation means for the syilx people.

“Westbank First Nation is excited to build upon the strong relationship with RDCO parks ensuring the syilx/Okanagan people and responsibility to the land is represented in a good and honest way through programming, grassroots initiatives on light pollution awareness, annual dark sky festivals, and more.

“Since time immemorial the syilx/Okanagan people have gazed upon the night sky and been guided by the wisdom of the stars.”