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The Rouge: Getting it right for Canada’s first National Urban Park

The Rouge National Urban Park is back on track after the federal government tabled a new Bill in Parliament that puts nature conservation first in the park’s management. In response Ontario has announced its intention to transfer provincial lands for the park to the federal government. This opens the door to celebrate an exciting new era for the Rouge as Canada’s first National Urban Park. The Rouge National Urban Park in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) will protect and restore an important ecosystem in Canada’s largest urban centre, and provide millions of Canadians with the chance to directly experience wild nature without leaving the city.

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Ensure the Rouge is protected forever
Ensure the Rouge is protected forever
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The Rouge Valley area is home to over 1,700 species of plants and animals, including 23 species at risk, and provides the only protected ecological connection for wildlife between the Oak Ridges Moraine and Lake Ontario.

Previously managed by the Province of Ontario and Municipalities as the Rouge Park, this area, along with some adjacent federal lands, were slated to become Canada’s first National Urban Park, which required new legislation.

CPAWS and other conservation organizations opposed the first Rouge National Urban Park Act that was passed by the federal government in 2015 because it did not provide adequate protection for nature in the Rouge.  In fact, the standard of protection was lower than was already in place under provincial policy and laws. As a result, Ontario made the decision to not transfer the provincially held lands to the federal government until the law was fixed. 

On June 9, 2016, the federal government tabled a new Bill in Parliament to make nature conservation the first priority for managing the national urban park. In response, the Ontario Minister of Infrastructure has announced that he will recommend that the lands be transferred to make the Rouge National Urban Park a reality.

The Prime Minister and many federal and provincial Ministers joined CPAWS to celebrate the protection of the Rouge on Saturday June 18th at CPAWS Wildlands League Chapter’s annual Paddle the Rouge event.

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June 2016. CTV News Toronto at Six. Advance to 5:55 mark for relevant story. Watch the video.

June 2016. The Trudeaus Take Up A Paddle For Rouge River Fundraiser. Read the article.

June 2016. Trudeau paddles the Rouge: Rouge Park moving ahead as feds and province settle land dispute. Read the article.

June 2016. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paddles the Rouge in Scarborough: "You elected a paddler as your prime minister." Read the article.

June 2016. Justin Trudeau and family ‘Paddle The Rouge’:The Trudeau family hopped in a canoe for the annual “Paddle the Rouge” event at Rouge River. Read the article.

June 2014. Group paddles Rouge River to protect the park: Orioles, cliff sparrows and red-winged blackbirds flit along the banks of the river, also home to otter and beaver, as the canoes meander past marshes, meadows, patches of trilliums — and Highway 401. Read the article

CPAWS Submissions

CPAWS' Submission to Transport Canada on the Future of Pickering Lands (July 2013)

CPAWS' Response to the Rouge Park concept

CPAWS testimony at House of Commons Committee re Bill C-40

CPAWS testimony at Senate Committee re: Bill C-40

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