Backgrounder Article from  Parks Canada

An Act to amend the Rouge National Urban Park Act, the Parks Canada Agency Act and the Canada National Parks Act

Located near the Greater Toronto Area, Rouge National Urban Park is Canada’s first ever national urban park and protects nature, culture and – for the first time in a nationally protected heritage area – agriculture.

Once fully established, Rouge National Urban Park will be the largest and best protected urban park of its kind in the world. At 79.1 km2, it will be 19 times larger than Stanley Park in Vancouver, 22 times larger than Central Park in New York, and nearly 50 times larger than Toronto’s High Park.

One of the proposed amendments to the Rouge National Urban Park Act is to ensure that ecological integrity is the first priority when managing the park. The definition of ecological integrity proposed is the same one used in the Canada National Parks Act.

In simple terms, ecological integrity means that ecosystems have integrity when their native components – including wildlife, native plants, waters and ecological processes – are intact.

Working with environmental groups, farmers, Indigenous People, universities, community partners and other stakeholders, Parks Canada will achieve ecological gains throughout the park, along with the conservation of cultural resources and farmland enhancement. In the last 12 months, Parks Canada has already completed 15 ecological restoration, farmland enhancement and scientific research projects.

Rouge National Urban Park is home to some of the rarest and most fertile farmland in Canada.  Another proposed amendment to the Act clarifies that ecological integrity will not prevent the carrying out of agricultural activities. These amendments provide greater certainty for park farmers who will be able to continue carrying out agricultural activities within the park, with leases of up to 30 years.

The final amendment to the Rouge National Urban Park Act will see the addition of 17.1 km2 of land added to the Act’s Schedule. Located in the northern portion of the park, this land is part of the first block of land transferred from Transport Canada. 

As part of the legislation, amendments are also being made to the Parks Canada Agency Act to allow the New Parks and Historic Sites Account to be used in a broader manner. The Act currently allows the Government to use the account for the purposes of establishing, enlarging or designating national parks and other protected heritage areas that are still in the development phase. The proposed amendment would allow the Government to use the account, and the public to donate funds, to expand or complete national parks, national marine conservation areas and national historic sites that have attained full operational status, including Rouge National Urban Park.

In addition, an amendment will be made to the Canada National Parks Act to modify the boundary of Wood Buffalo National Park. For the purposes of establishing the Garden River Indian Reserve, a parcel of land totaling 37 km2 will be withdrawn from Wood Buffalo National Park. Through this amendment, the Government of Canada is honouring its commitment to the Little Red River Cree Nation. The creation of the Garden River Indian Reserve builds on the Government’s commitment to reconciliation and nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples, based on a recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.

For more information of Rouge National Urban Park, please visit: www.parkscanada.ca/rouge

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Hon. Catherine McKenna Parks Canada Nature and Environment

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