(TORONTO, ON) – Prime Minister Stephen Harper has announced a significant expansion of Rouge National Urban Park, which is located in the Greater Toronto Area. A national urban park is a new category in the family of Parks Canada’s protected areas alongside national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas.
Under the announcement, the Government of Canada will more than double its initial contribution by adding an additional 21 square kilometres of new lands to Rouge National Urban Park, featuring a mix of natural, cultural, and agricultural lands. This expansion will increase the boundaries of Canada’s first national urban park by over 36 per cent, making it one of the largest urban parks in North America, spanning 79.5 square kilometres once fully established.
“Our Government understands that Canada’s natural environment helps shape our national identity and underlies our health and prosperity,” said Harper. “That is why I am pleased to announce that with the addition of 21 square kilometres of new land, Rouge National Urban Park will become one of the largest urban green spaces of its kind in North America, benefiting Canadian families and international tourism.”
The addition of 21 km2 of new land will make Rouge National Urban Park one of the largest urban parks of its kind in North America. With the addition of these new lands, a total of 79.5 km2 of land have been committed to the park, making it 19 times larger than Stanley Park in Vancouver, 22 times larger than Central Park in New York, and close to 50 times larger than Toronto’s High Park.
The new lands, which include forests, meadows, streams, creeks, important archaeological sites, and large tracts of farmland, are located in the City of Pickering and the Township of Uxbridge. They will be under the protection of Parks Canada and preserved for the enjoyment of Canadian families and international visitors.
Rouge National Urban Park’s close proximity to 20 per cent of Canada’s population will create unprecedented opportunities in the Greater Toronto Area for a broad diversity of Canadians to learn about and connect with Canada’s natural, cultural and agricultural heritage, serving as a gateway for discovering Canada’s incredible network of protected heritage areas.
The Rouge National Urban Park will be afforded the strongest protections of any urban park in the world, with its very own legislation, the historic Rouge National Urban Park Act, providing multi-million dollar investments to conserve and restore it, and ensure year-round enforcement.
The expansion of Rouge National Urban Park was informed by broad consultations with municipal, regional, provincial, Aboriginal, and community stakeholders. The urban park will provide real and significant benefits to Canada’s environment, including protecting drinking water, agricultural lands, rare ecosystems such as some of the best remaining examples of Carolinian forests and wetlands in the Greater Toronto Area, and rich biodiversity including over 1,700 species of plants and animals.