Ottawa, ON – Yesterday’s passage of the Rouge National Urban Park Act is no cause for celebration. The proposed legislation fails to establish nature conservation as the priority in park management, ignoring provincial, national and international standards for protected areas.
All opposition MPs voted against the bill (Bill C-40), acknowledging its critical flaws.
The proposed legislation jeopardizes the government’s own initiative: to establish and manage a Rouge National Urban Park that will protect its natural values for generations. Furthermore, it sets a bad precedent for future national urban parks.
Ontario has already informed the federal government that Canada should uphold the agreement dated January 23, 2013 and “meet or exceed” the environmental policies of existing Greenbelt, Oak Ridges Moraine and Rouge Park Plans. The proposed legislation and draft management plan clearly fail to meet these tests.
As a result, Ontario’s substantial Rouge Park lands (approximately 25 square kilometres) may not be transferred to Parks Canada. The new Rouge National Urban Park may be less than half the park’s announced size, will not include the beautiful Rouge Valley system and will not be connected to Lake Ontario.
Within our nation, and around the world, Canada’s parks are renowned for their outstanding natural beauty and environmental standards. Unfortunately, our newest national urban park will be a park in name only. The flawed Rouge National Urban Park Act represents a missed opportunity to protect this ecological treasure for Canadians today and into the future.
It is our hope that the Senate will amend the draft park law to prioritize nature conservation and meet international standards for a protected area.
The groups issuing this statement are: Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society–Wildlands League, David Suzuki Foundation, Environmental Defence, Friends of the Rouge Watershed, Nature Canada, Ontario Nature, Save The Oak Ridges Moraine, and Sierra Club Canada Foundation.
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