Petition asks feds to respect and strengthen existing plans for the Rouge and establish a sustainable 100 km2 national park


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In celebration of Canadian Environment Week (June 2-8, 2013), MPs Rathika Sitsabaiesan, John McKay, Kirsty Duncan, Elizabeth May and John McCallum submitted copies of the Rouge National Park petition — signed by a total of 3200 Canadians — to the federal government.

The petition asks the government to respect and strengthen existing Rouge Park Plans and establish an ecologically healthy and sustainable 100 km2 Rouge National Park that links Lake Ontario to the heart of the Oak Ridges Moraine with publicly-owned Greenbelt lands.

You can access the petition online at

Over the last 25 years, visionary federal, provincial and municipal political leaders have listened to the public and worked together to create the existing Rouge Park, a Greenbelt gem near Toronto.

In May of 2012, the federal government announced a plan to create a Rouge National Urban Park and a park concept document was released. “Unfortunately, the draft national park concept is critically inconsistent with the vision, plans and legislative framework already developed for the current Rouge Park,” says Jim Robb of Friends of the Rouge Watershed (FRW). “Continuing in this direction would undermine the park’s ecological health, water quality, First Nation heritage and visitor enjoyment potential.”

And it’s not only community groups like FRW who are worried about the proposed concept of the park. Local MPs Rathika Sitsabaiesan and John McKay have commented on the new “National Urban Park” concept.

“The vision of approved Rouge Park Management Plans (1994 and 2001) centres on the protection and appreciation of the park ecosystem,” says MP John McKay, who went on to say that “the federal government should create a 100 km2 Rouge National Park which supports and implements this longstanding public vision.”

“During the creation of Rouge National Park, the federal government has a clear responsibility to strengthen and implement the vision and objectives of existing Rouge Park Plans,” says MP Rathika Sitsabaiesan. “That includes the Provincial Greenbelt Plan, the Rouge Natural Heritage Action Plan (2008) and the International Agreement for improving Great Lakes water quality.”

MP Kirsty Duncan, Etobicoke North riding, has stated that “the publicly-owned lands surrounding the Rouge River in Toronto, Markham and Pickering should be permanently protected.  A 100 km2 Park will protect and restore part of Canada’s endangered Carolinian Life Zone, improve the quality of water returning to Lake Ontario and Toronto Area beaches, and provide millions of Canadians with a transit-accessible National Park.”

The new National Park will not only serve millions of residents in the GTA, but all Canadians and visitors alike.

“Having worked on protection of the Rouge since the late 1980’s, I wish I could be more enthusiastic of the current plans,” says MP Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party. At this point they fall far short of the protection and restoration of a sustainable natural habitat system which links Lake Ontario to the Oak Ridges Moraine. It is critical that we defend Canadians’ ability to appreciate this beautiful part of Canada’s endangered Carolinian and mixed woodland ecological zones.”

In celebration of Canadian Environment Week, MPs Rathika Sitsabaiesan, Chris Alexander, John McKay, Kirsty Duncan and Elizabeth May will submit copies of the Rouge National Park petition, signed by a total of 3200 Canadians.

The petition asks the federal government to respect and strengthen existing Rouge Park Plans and establish an ecologically healthy and sustainable 100 km2 Rouge National Park which links Lake Ontario to the heart of the Oak Ridges Moraine with publicly owned Greenbelt lands.

The theme of Canadian Environment Week is Water: Working Together. “By voicing public concerns and working together, these MPs are encouraging the Canadian Government to create a healthy 100 km2 Rouge National Park which will help to protect and restore water quality, ecological health and public health within Toronto’s Great Lakes water quality “Area of Concern,” says Mr. Robb.

You can access the petition online at

Support a 100-square-kilometre Rouge National Park with your letter to key decision makers

Below is a sample letter outlining issues that key decision makers should address when planning for the new Rouge National Park. Send this letter or one that you compose yourself to this LIST OF LETTER RECIPIENTS (Use this link to launch your default email service, or right click for more options.).

If you need more information about the Rouge watershed or the park, you can read the previous post, which features a presentation, or any of the other posts that we have made available on this site.

We hope that you enjoy your visit and gain an appreciation of the immense opportunity this park represents for Toronto and for Canada as a whole.

Subject: Please create a sustainable and ecologically healthy 100 km2 Rouge National Park

Dear Prime Minister, Ministers, MPs, and Parks Canada:

Southern Ontario has 1/3 of Canada’s population and 1/3 of Canada’s endangered species but only 1/400th of its land protected in National Parks.

The existing 47 km2 provincially-created Rouge Park and the adjacent 53 km2 of federal public lands in north Markham and Pickering offer the last chance to create a large National Park in southern Ontario.

I commend the federal government for its commitment to create a Rouge National Park by taking over the existing Rouge Park and adding adjacent public lands which are designated Provincial Greenbelt.

However, the federal government’s May 2012 Rouge National Urban Park Concept is creating growing public concerns by:

1) ignoring the environmental policies of approved Provincial Greenbelt and Rouge Park Plans;
2) Ignoring longstanding plans for a 600 metre wide forested Rouge Park ecological corridor;
3) Excluding important public lands needed for a healthy and sustainable Rouge National Park;
4) Ignoring the ecological integrity role of the existing Rouge Park & a true Canadian National Park.

To protect and restore the ecological health and integrity of Rouge National Park for current and future generations to enjoy, I respectfully ask the Government of Canada to:

1) Expand the current 57 km2 park study area to include the 100+ km2 public land assembly;
2) Strengthen and implement the ecological vision and policies of approved Rouge Park plans and the Provincial Greenbelt Plan to create a true Canadian National Park;
3) Protect and restore a 600+ metre wide mainly forested Rouge Park “main ecological corridor” between Lake Ontario and the Oak Ridges Moraine;
4) Conduct a scientific and transparent public planning process to create Rouge National Park’s legislation and strategic plan;
5) Include First Nations and Friends of the Rouge Watershed on the Rouge National Park Planning and Advisory Board.

I look forward to your favourable response to these reasonable requests.

Name and Address:

Let’s have a 100 square kilometre Rouge National Park!!

Take a look at the presentation below to familiarize yourself with the opportunity the preservation of the Rouge River Watershed makes available to residents of the Greater Toronto Area and in fact to all Canadians and then look at the model letter to the attention of politicians that we provided in the previous post. A link to the letter is here

rnp_leg_eco1View the Presentation

We encourage you to e-mail the letter or one that you compose yourself to the list of e-mail addresses that have been provided (The list is at the bottom of the letter).

Three environmental groups request Ontario premier maintain existing Rouge Park policies in land transfer to the Federal Government


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Environmental Defence, Ontario Nature and Friends of the Rouge Watershed jointly presented the letter to former Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty in December 2012 summarizing what the groups thought were important conditions for the transfer of Rouge Park land to the Federal Government.

Letter to premier on Rouge National Park and Provincial land transfer (Dec 13 2012).

Unanimous City of Toronto motion supports a nature-first 100-square-kilometre Rouge National Urban Park


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In November 2012, City of Toronto councillors supported an official plan amendment with respect to the Rouge National Urban Park that includes a call to include all of the 100 square kilometres of public land within the Rouge and Duffins Creek watersheds.

View Toronto City Council motion on Rouge National Urban Park

GLU comments on the creation of Rouge National Park


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Great Lakes United (GLU) supports the concept of a 100 square kilometre Rouge National Park in this October 2012 letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The letter also calls for forest and wetland restoration and implementation of existing watershed and subwatershed plans.

GLU comments regarding Rouge National Park (Oct 10, 2012).


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