TORONTO, June 11, 2013 /CNW/ - The Honourable Peter Kent, Canada's Environment Minister and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, and the Honourable Glen Murray, Ontario Minister of Infrastructure, announced Canada's first national urban park took a giant leap forward following the provincial government's commitment to transfer lands to the Government of Canada towards the creation of Rouge National Urban Park.
"The Ontario government is proud to contribute lands to create Rouge National Urban Park for families across Canada and visitors to enjoy for years to come," said Minister Murray. "This is about working together to create a national urban park while also protecting valuable green space."
The commitment by the provincial government build's on today's announcement by Transport Canada to transfer nearly 5,000 acres to Parks Canada towards the creation of Rouge National Urban Park. This will fulfill the dream of the Rouge Park Alliance to create a park from Lake Ontario to the Oak Ridges Moraine.
"As announced in the 2011 Speech from the Throne and Economic Action Plan 2012, our Government is working with provincial, regional, municipal, Aboriginal and community partners towards the creation of a national urban park in the Rouge Valley," said Minister Peter Kent. "With this federal and provincial commitment for these lands, we are not one, but two, steps closer to creating a truly 'Canadian first' with Rouge National Urban Park; a place where nature, culture and agriculture can be protected, appreciated, experienced and supported."
Through efforts made by the Government of Ontario, approximately two thirds of the existing land area for the proposed Rouge National Urban Park has been brought into public ownership over the past few decades. In total, the Government of Ontario intends to contribute more than 5,300 acres toward the park. This includes transferring more than 1,600 acres to the Government of Canada and relinquishing reversionary rights to approximately 3,700 acres originally purchased by the province and currently managed by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.
The new park will be more than 13 times the size of Stanley Park in Vancouver. Rouge National Urban Park will be created, managed and administered in a way to ensure protection of the area's rich natural and cultural heritage, while at the same time offering a park for the people in Canada's largest city to have outstanding experiences for generations to come. Rouge National Urban Park will also provide Parks Canada the opportunity to better engage with residents in the GTA and help build more meaningful connections to Canada's network of parks and iconic landscapes.
Federal - Provincial Commitment Respecting the Establishment
of the future Rouge National Urban Park
The Government of Canada announced, as part of Budget 2012, the creation of Rouge National Urban Park and committed $143.7M over ten years for park development and interim operations, and $7.6 million annually thereafter for continuing operations.
Following this federal commitment, Parks Canada initiated a robust and inclusive planning process for the future Rouge National Urban Park. Working with more than 100 organizations, including provincial, municipal, Aboriginal and community stakeholders, the guiding principles and approach for the national urban park were established. Parks Canada then publicly presented a high level concept through a broad public engagement program over the summer and fall of 2012. Thousands of comments from Canadians were received, with respondents expressing a passionate interest in and support for the establishment of Rouge National Urban Park.
The study area identified in the Rouge National Urban Park concept was included in the proposal set out in the Rouge Park Alliance governance report and was confirmed through collaboration between Parks Canada and public landholders including: the Government of Canada; the Government of Ontario; the City of Toronto; the City of Pickering; the City of Markham; the Regional Municipalities of York and Durham; and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. The collective lands being assembled for the future national urban park will significantly increase the size of the current Rouge Park, making it more than 13 times the size of Stanley Park in Vancouver.
Appreciating the unique social, economic and environmental opportunity that will help transform a key area of the Greater Toronto Area, both Transport Canada and the Ontario government have now officially confirmed their respective intentions to transfer lands to Parks Canada. These vital steps formalize the federal and provincial commitments to the future Rouge National Urban Park and outline the processes to complete the transfer of these lands to Parks Canada at nominal value. The final description of the parcels of land to be transferred will be agreed to after the required due diligence is complete. This work will begin immediately.
Transport Canada will transfer approximately 5,000 acres to Parks Canada, illustrating the Government of Canada's desire to protect and responsibly manage these lands. Representing the northern part of the Rouge National Urban Park Study Area and much of the region's agricultural base, the addition of these lands will fulfill the vision for a contiguous network of natural lands and open space in the Rouge Valley from Lake Ontario to the Oak Ridges Moraine.
Through the Ontario government's foresight and leadership, and at significant expense, approximately two thirds of the existing land area for the proposed Rouge National Urban Park has been brought into public ownership over the past few decades. The Government of Canada recognizes Ontario's work in protecting green space and agricultural lands in the existing Rouge Park and will continue to work with the province in the development of federal policies and plans in respect to the creation, management and administration of the national urban park. The Ontario government intends to transfer an estimated 1,600 acres of land to Parks Canada as well as relinquish reversionary rights to approximately 3,700 acres of additional lands that were originally purchased by Ontario and subsequently transferred to the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA).
Parks Canada can now work towards finalizing the land assembly agreement with the TRCA and municipal and regional landholders, while focusing on the next steps in the establishment process, including the development of the first strategic management plan for Rouge National Urban Park.
Throughout this establishment process, the TRCA continues to be the managing authority for the current Rouge Park. The TRCA keeps Parks Canada abreast of all park discussions and activities, and regularly seeks input from the Agency to ensure decisions during this transition period are made in the best interests of the future national urban park.
The opportunity to establish Rouge National Urban Park under the stewardship of Parks Canada, builds on the legacy of the agency as international leader in conservation, visitor experience and education. It is also well aligned with the agency's priority to meaningfully reach Canada's youth and our country's increasingly diverse urban population. Parks Canada is excited to have the opportunity to establish Rouge National Urban Park as a place where nature, culture and agriculture can all be protected, appreciated, experienced and supported by Canadians.
SOURCE Parks Canada