Says it should be included in list of 15 to be established across Canada
TORONTO – Wildlands League is supporting a new initiative in Guelph to create a National Urban Park. Local residents and leaders have been behind this for many years and this fall, the initiative got a big boost from the creation of a new local group. Urban Park Guelph is dedicated to building a National Urban Park on the former Ontario Reformatory Grounds. Wildlands League has also thrown its support behind this exciting initiative.
“The Guelph site has so many ingredients for a National Urban Park,” says Anna Baggio, Wildlands League’s Conservation Director. “It is within one of the most ecologically diverse and least protected regions in Canada. It has huge public endorsement and could play a critical role in reconciliation with Indigenous People.”
The proposed area includes the former Ontario Reformatory Grounds along a tributary of the Grand River. The Grand is a Canadian Heritage River and the site is within a proposed Heritage Conservation District. Its forests, meadows and wetlands host many species.
“Urban Park Guelph took us on a tour of the site, and it is a gem,” says Dave Pearce, Senior Forest Conservation Manager for Wildlands League. “There are hiking trails and riverside nature that connect with the larger Grand watershed. It would be ideal as a protected core with ecological corridors preserved out to the surrounding countryside,” enthuses Pearce.
Canada has pledged more urban protection and ecological corridors as part of protecting 30% of Canada and halting and reversing biodiversity loss. To achieve this, Wildlands League’s Nature Connectivity Project encourages building nearby networks of protected nature. The group promotes expanding Rouge National Urban Park and supports other groups doing similar work. They continue to back Bill C-248 in the Senate to establish Windsor’s Ojibway National Urban Park.
“The more proposals for protecting urban nature, the better,” states Janet Sumner, Wildlands League Executive Director. “As the federal government sees the demand and need for urban parks, the more parks they will be willing to establish and maintain,” Sumner adds.
Sumner thinks that urban protection also builds public support for big wilderness conservation. “When people see parks in their own backyard, they understand how larger areas can have a global benefit for climate and biodiversity and they get behind them,” Sumner says.
With the proposed new park, there will be new associated jobs and more space for people within Guelph to enjoy peace and beauty within the heart of the city, Wildlands League says.
The Federal Government is actively working on new National Urban Parks at 6 sites and has committed to a total of 15 new urban parks across Canada.
“Guelph should be included in the Group of 15,” concludes Baggio, who lives in the city. “It has a ‘Green’ reputation, but is growing rapidly and opportunities to protect nature are shrinking. The time is right to protect this.”
People can support Urban Park Guelph by signing an electronic petition to the Federal Government on the House of Commons website by January 18th: https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-4593
For more information and photos please contact:
Dave Pearce, Senior Forest Conservation Manager
416 807 8340 (cell)