This week, Members of Parliament (MPs) will debate Bill C-18 and its amendments to the Rouge National Urban Park (RNUP) Act. Bill C-18 contains a very positive amendment to prioritize ecological integrity. However, Bill C-18 also has an easily fixed omission. The bill needs to explicitly support the implementation of Ontario’s pre-existing Greenbelt, Rouge Park, Oak Ridges Moraine and Watershed Conservation Plans. In doing so, Bill C-18 would support:
- the Canada & Ontario Agreement to “meet or exceed” pre-existing Ontario Greenbelt and Rouge Park Plans;
- the Ontario Government’s request for an explicit amendment to support Ontario Conservation Plans;
- the Liberal “party approved” commitments of 16 GTA candidates elected as Members of Parliament in 2015.
To help the Federal Government respect Ontario’s request, Federal commitments and Federal mandates, Friends of the Rouge Watershed, Environmental Defence and Ontario Nature requested the following amendment 6(3):
Subsection (1) is intended to support and complement the implementation of pre-existing Ontario Greenbelt, Oak Ridges Moraine, Rouge Park and Watershed Conservations Plans.
If amendment 6(3) is included in Bill C-18 and the RNUP Act , the Federal Government will be ensuring progress on implementing science-based and democratically approved Ontario remedial action plans to:
- improve watershed health, Great Lakes Water Quality and the health of our drinking water;
- mitigate growing pollution, flooding and erosion liabilities and climate change risks;
- improve habitat, biodiversity and the recovery of species at risk in Canada’s most under-protected eco-zone;
- improve public access to public park lands in Canada’s most populous region;
- recreate the historic First Nation Trail and “main ecological corridor” between Lake Ontario and the ORM.
“Ontario’s Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe relies on the implementation of Ontario Greenbelt, Rouge Park, ORM and Watershed Conservation Plans to buffer the impacts of growth and climate change, and better protect watershed health, ecological integrity and human health”. Tim Gray, Executive Director, Environmental Defence
If section 6(3) is not in the RNUP Act, the Federal government will waste precious public time, money and resources on “reinventing the wheel” while urgent environmental action plans are delayed by Federal duplication”. Kevin O’Connor, President of “Friends of the Rouge Watershed
“To meet the growing environmental challenges we face and better protect nature and biodiversity, we need to ensure implementation of existing Ontario Conservation Plans by providing them with legislative support in the National Rouge Park legislation” Caroline Schultz, Executive Director, Ontario Nature
- Friends of the Rouge Watershed, Jim Robb, 647-891-9550
- Environmental Defence, Stephanie Kohls, 416-323-9521 ext 232
- Ontario Nature, John Hassell, (c) 416-786-2171