Canada strengthens Rouge National Park ecological protection

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The Government of Canada took an important step on Thursday  towards completing the establishment of Rouge National Urban Park, Canada’s first national urban park, located in the GTA and which is within an hour’s reach of 7 million Canadians.

Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Catherine McKenna, announced that the Government of Canada tabled amendments to the Rouge National Urban Park Act. These amendments will protect the Rouge’s important ecosystems and heritage as well as ensure ecological integrity is the first priority when managing the park.

Parks Canada has engaged with over 20,000 Canadians and over 200 organizations, including Indigenous Peoples, municipalities, environmental groups, and the park’s farming community.

The amendments provide greater certainty for park farmers. One-year leases will be replaced with leases of up to 30 years to ensure long-term stability for park farmers and their families—some of whom have been farming in the Rouge Valley since 1799. Farmers can continue carrying out agricultural activities within the park and providing an important source of locally-grown food to the Greater Toronto Area.

Importantly, the amendments to the Rouge National Urban Park Act will also see 17.1 km2 of lands added to the Schedule of the Act and formally included in the park. An associated amendment to the Canada National Parks Act, will see the Government of Canada honour its commitment to the Little Red River Cree Nation by withdrawing 37 km2 from Wood Buffalo National Park to create the Garden River Indian Reserve.

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Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, said: “The Government of Canada is following through on our commitment to enhance Rouge National Urban Park and protect its important ecosystems and heritage. We have worked in close collaboration with the Government of Ontario, Indigenous Peoples as well as with local stakeholders and I am delighted that we are taking steps to strengthen ecological protections for the Rouge and to respect and promote a vibrant farming community within the park.”

Quick Facts

  • Rouge National Urban Park is the first of its kind in Canada—a nationally protected area in an urban setting. Within a one hour’s drive of 20 percent of Canada’s population and accessible by public transit, the park provides unprecedented opportunities for Canadians to experience protected nature and Canada’s cultural and agricultural heritage.
  • Rouge National Urban Park is home to over 1,700 species of plants and animals, including 27 species-at-risk.
  • Once fully established, Rouge National Urban Park will be over 79 km2 in size, making it one of the world’s largest protected areas in an urban setting – 19 times larger than Stanley Park in Vancouver and 22 times larger than Central Park in New York.
  • Parks Canada manages one of the finest and most extensive systems of protected and natural and cultural areas in the world. Through its broad network of national parks, marine conservation areas, national historic sites and now Canada’s first national urban park, Parks Canada connects Canadians with their heritage. –  CNW
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