Ottawa – Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) welcomes the Bill introduced in the House of Commons today 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.

“Today the Government of Canada got it right,” said Janet Sumner, Executive Director for CPAWS Wildlands League. “From the red shouldered hawk and peregrine falcon to the butternut tree and the beautiful Monarch butterfly. This is huge. Nature will come first.” Sumner added.

With 7 million people living within one hour’s drive of the proposed Rouge National Urban Park, park managers need strong legal tools to protect the park’s ecosystems from the inevitable pressures of the surrounding urban environment. This includes an explicit legal mandate to consider nature first and foremost in all management decisions, including when faced with proposals for new roads, parking lots or other development proposals. Without such a framework, nature inevitably loses.

“CPAWS also welcomes the greater certainty for the farming community that is proposed in this bill,” said Éric Hébert Daly, CPAWS National Executive Director. “It shows that, with some creative thinking, solutions can be found that work for farming and for conservation of the precious Rouge ecosystem,” Hébert-Daly added.

CPAWS thanks Hon. Catherine McKenna and her team for working diligently over the last six months, listening to Canadians to come up with solutions.

Rouge Park is located in the eastern Greater Toronto Area and houses much of the lower Rouge River watershed – one of the last flowing into western Lake Ontario to remain free of urban development. It protects a rare Carolinian forest, is home to over 1700 species of plants and animals, including 23 species at risk, and provides the only ecological connection for wildlife between the Oak Ridges Moraine and Lake Ontario.

The park was slated to become part of Canada’s first National Urban Park last year, however, the initiative stalled when the previous federal government failed to bring in adequate environmental protections in law. Today’s announcement is a huge step forward in getting the initiative back on track.


To arrange an interview please contact:

Anna Baggio, Director, Conservation Planning, CPAWS Wildlands League, 416-453-3285 mobile

Éric Hébert Daly, National Executive Director, CPAWS, 613-899-7226 mobile

For more information including high res versions of maps of the Rouge National Urban Park please visit:

Wildlands League is a not for profit conservation organization in Ontario, Canada and a chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS). Learn more about us at

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is Canada’s only nationwide charity dedicated solely to the protection of our public land and water, and ensuring our parks are managed to protect the nature within them. Learn more at

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