Rouge Park is located on the eastern boundary of the City of Toronto and houses much of the lower Rouge River watershed – one of the last in Western Lake Ontario to remain free of urban development. Bounded by Markham and Scarborough to the west, Pickering to the east and Stouffville to the north, the 47km2 Rouge Park provides a bastion against urban sprawl. It protects a rare Carolinian forest, is home to over 1,700 species of plants and animals, including 23 species at risk, and provides the only protected ecological connection for wildlife between the Oak Ridges Moraine and Lake Ontario in the Toronto area.
We welcome the Bill introduced in the House of Commons on June 9, 2016 by the Government of Canada to amend the Rouge National Urban Park Act (RNUP) to prioritize ecological integrity in law in the management of the park. If passed, it would rectify a critical weakness—the failure to prioritize nature conservation in park management and meet the international definition of a protected area. CPAWS Wildlands League also thanks Ontario Minister Duguid for his commitment to the park and welcomes his comments that he will recommend to Cabinet that Ontario transfer the lands to enable the creation of Rouge National Urban Park.
NEW June 2016 MAPS!
With 7 million people living within a one hour drive of the Rouge Valley, it is imperative that nature conservation is prioritized in Bill C-40 The Rouge National Urban Park Act and subsequent management plan to ensure this remarkable natural area and its wildlife are enjoyed by generations to come.
Putting nature conservation first is also consistent with the international definition and guidance for protected areas.
A natural stronghold against urban sprawl in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Rouge Park is home to over 1700 species of plants and animals including 23 species at risk. The Rouge Valley also contains one of Ontario’s best remaining examples of Carolinian Forest and the last intact watershed in the area.
The only wildlife corridor from Lake Ontario to the Oak Ridges Moraine, in the Toronto area, is protected by Rouge Park. Potential commercial and industrial development of the “Pickering Lands” poses a serious risk to species, particularly those that require more space to supply all of their habitat needs (such as otter and Great Blue Heron).
In such a busy urban landscape, assuring the long-term health of the park will require strong management tools that prioritize conservation and provide clear guidance for visitor use. The law must clearly state that the protection of ecological integrity is the first priority of the Minister in park management. Mandatory language is also needed in the purpose section to signify that the duty to preserve the parkland for future generations is required and language to dedicate the park to the people of Canada for their benefit should also be included in any amendments.
Adjacent to the park are federally owned “Pickering Lands”. Transport Canada announced in 2013 that there was potential for commercial and industrial development here. If they are developed, one of the last intact wildlife corridors running from Lake Ontario to the Oak Ridges Moraine would be compromised, which would pose a serious problem for wildlife in the Rouge, and in the entire region.
Better intergovernmental cooperation is required to ensure that these “Pickering Lands” remain permanently protected from urban development.
CPAWS Paddles the Rouge with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, June 18, 2016
CPAWS applauds bill to fix Rouge National Urban Park Act, June 9, 2016
Bill to Create Canada’s First National Urban Park Remains Flawed, March 12, 2015