Rouge Park © Noah Cole
On June 19, 2017, the reformed Rouge National Urban Park Act is scheduled to receive Royal Assent, which will bring Canada one step closer in protecting this important ecological area. While the new law prioritizes ecological integrity for the park’s 79 km2 of publicly owned lands, it will be the direction of the new Park Management Plan that will ensure the ecological integrity of this national treasure. The new plan must ensure the protection and restoration of native biodiversity and natural processes, and the mitigation of environmental stressors.
In striving to achieve ecological integrity, Parks Canada should update the Park Management Plan to support the implementation of pre-existing Ontario Greenbelt, Rouge Park, Oak Ridges Moraine (ORM), Watershed and Great Lakes Water Quality Improvement Plans. These science-based plans are the product of decades of stakeholder consultation and democratic public approvals which involved thousands of GTA residents.
“The new Rouge National Park is a gift to Canada, and to protect it within a stressed landscape, it must be managed to include the decades of conservation decisions made in pre-existing plans for the park and adjacent ecosystems,” says Tim Gray, Executive Director, Environmental Defence.
“The implementation of existing Rouge Park and Watershed Remedial Action Plans will save GTA residents $Billions by reducing pollution, flooding and erosion costs, and reducing damages to property, infrastructure and public health,” says Kevin O’Connor, President of Friends of the Rouge Watershed.
“To better protect nature, biodiversity and ecological integrity, Parks Canada needs to update the Park Management Plan to support the timely implementation of pre-existing Conservation and Remedial Action Plans,” says Anne Bell, Director of Conservation and Education, Ontario Nature.
The Park Management Plan needs to be updated to:
- recreate the “main ecological corridor” and historic First Nations Trail connecting Lake Ontario and the ORM;
- 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 ecozone;
- improve public access to public park lands in Canadas most populous region;
- implement Environment Canada’s recommendations for achieving ecological integrity;
- demonstrate political and ecological integrity by honouring written federal and provincial commitments.
Federal Government actions to implement existing Conservation and Remedial Action Plans will speak loudly to GTA residents who are suffering increasing damages and costs from increasingly severe storms and flooding associated with climate change. Our organizations look forward to working with government and playing an active role in the development of the new management plan.
- Environmental Defence, Allen Braude, 416-323-9521 ext 247, (c) 905-356-2587
- Ontario Nature, Anne Bell, (c) 416-659-2339
- Friends of the Rouge Watershed, Jim Robb, 647-891-9550