Support a 100 square kilometre National Rouge Park with ecological integrity

… with these quick and simple steps:

  1. Click the button to create an email populated with key contacts.create email
  2. Copy the letter below into your email, personalize it if you like.
  3. Add your name and municipality and send your email.
  4. Email your friends and ask them to visit and send an email of their own.

Thank you for thinking globally and acting locally for a healthier environment and future

Note: Log into your email client before trying to send the letter. If for any reason pressing the button fails to generate an email for you, create your own and ensure it goes to;;;;

The Letter …

Dear Candidates:

When the federal government passed the flawed Rouge National Urban Park Act, it ignored existing environmental standards and the input of thousands of Canadians, 106 MPs, the Ontario Government and many respected environmental groups.

The substandard Rouge National Urban Park Act and plan:

  1. Fall considerably short of accepted standards for protected areas, urban or wilderness, says Stephen Woodley, a former chief scientist with Parks Canada;
  1. Fail to prioritize ecological integrity, contrary to existing Rouge Park Plans and provincial and national park legislation;
  1. Ignore Environment Canada’s own science-based recommendations for improving biological diversity, watershed health and Lake Ontario water quality;
  1. Fail to honour the federal commitment to “meet or exceed” provincial policies.

Existing Rouge Park, Rouge Watershed and Great Lakes Water Quality Improvement Plans are designed to combat climate change, flooding, pollution and species extinction.

By undermining these approved Plans, the federal government is ignoring science and increasing the risk of costly damage.  In 2013 alone, flood damage cost Toronto $1 billion.

The Rouge National Urban Park Act and plan need to be amended to:

  1. Prioritize the protection and restoration of ecological integrity and watershed health;
  1. Support the implementation of Ontario Greenbelt, Oak Ridges Moraine and Rouge Park Plans, and watershed plans to improve Great Lakes water quality;
  1. Implement the Greenbelt and Rouge Park “main ecological corridor” and Environment Canada’s “How Much Habitat is Enough” recommendations;
  1. Create a 100+ km2 Rouge National Park linking Lake Ontario to the Moraine;
  1. Remove the dangerous misnomer “Urban” from the park name.

Rouge Park has greater biological diversity than almost any other Canadian national park. Its publicly owned park lands are located within the Carolinian habitat zone of southern Ontario — the home of 1/3 of Canada’s endangered species. Rouge Park is larger than five existing Canadian national parks and it is more than twenty times larger than major “Urban Parks” like New York’s Central Park and Vancouver’s Stanley Park.

Therefore, the designation “Urban Park” belies Rouge Park’s national ecological significance and potential, its large size, its natural and rural character, its Greenbelt landscape connectivity, and its natural visitor experiences.  Unlike “Urban Parks”, which are small and isolated, Rouge Park can be 100+ square kilometres large and it connects with 7,200 km2 of permanent Greenbelt lands. The Greenbelt provides for a “main ecological corridor”  through Rouge Park between Lake Ontario and the Oak Ridges Moraine. The Greenbelt then extends west to the Niagara Escarpment, north to Lake Huron and Lake Simcoe and east to Lake Scugog and Rice Lake.

The danger of the “Urban Park” template is revealed by Downsview National Urban Park, which has plans to convert federal public park lands into thousands of private condominium units and artificial landscapes, requiring expensive public maintenance. Rouge Park warrants true national park protection to resist privatization and exploitation pressures and forever remain natural, rural and public.

The federal government has tried to excuse its weak legislation and plan by citing Rouge Park’s near-urban setting, infrastructure and agricultural leases.  However, many national parks have towns, highways, utilities and leased lands — and all existing national parks prioritize “ecological integrity”.  Existing Rouge Park and Federal Green Space Plans identify areas for continued farming and areas for nature and public enjoyment.  The Greenbelt and Rouge Park “main ecological corridor” is less than 20% the average park width.  Therefore, prioritizing ecological integrity does not mean the re-naturalization of all the leased farmlands in Rouge Park.

To overcome the growing global challenges of costly climatic extremes, health damaging pollution and species extinction, we need to think globally and act locally.

We can act locally by prioritizing ecological integrity and watershed health within the legislation and plan for a 100+ square kilometre Rouge National Park.

Whether they be far wilderness or near urban, national parks are extraordinary public lands where Canadians justifiably prioritize ecological integrity and watershed health.

Will you support the above five amendments to create a healthy 100+ square kilometre Rouge National Park?


Your name and municipality or riding

Proposed Rouge National Urban Park legislation and plan fail to meet existing environmental standards

Duguid letter to federal environment minister

Brad Duguid’s letter to federal environment minister (click to view PDF).

NGO coalition letter to Ottawa.

NGO Coalition letter to Ottawa (click to view PDF).

The draft Rouge National Urban (NU) Park legislation fails to “meet or exceed” existing Rouge Park, Greenbelt and ORM Policies and their “Ecological Integrity” goal, as the attached letters from Ontario Cabinet Minister Brad Duguid and our NGO coalition indicate.

Please send the following email to the listed federal officials to Help Protect Rouge Park

Step 1: Copy the following contact list into your email “To” window;;

Step 2: Copy the following contact list into your email “Cc” window;;;;;;;;;;;;;

Step 3: Copy the draft letter below into your email, personalize it as you
like, add your name and address at the bottom, and send it.

Dear Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq and Prime Minister Stephen Harper:

In 2013, the federal government agreed to “meet or exceed” Ontario’s Greenbelt, Rouge Park and Oak Ridges Moraine (ORM) policies during the drafting of the legislation and plan for a National Rouge Park.

Unfortunately, the draft National Rouge Park legislation and plan, released in June 2014, fails to “meet or exceed” these provincial policies, threatening to undermine decades of Rouge Park public policy development.

I support the Ontario Government and the many groups and citizens asking the federal government to:

1. “meet or exceed” existing Ontario Greenbelt, Rouge Park & ORM policies;
2. give priority to ecological integrity and science-based park
3. implement Rouge Park’s “main ecological corridor” & plans to improve habitat & water quality;
4. create a 100 km2 national park on public Greenbelt lands linking Lake Ontario to the ORM.

These policies do not require the re-naturalization of all the leased farmlands in Rouge Park.

Existing Rouge Park Plans and adjacent Federal Green Space Preserve Plans have areas zoned for farming and areas zoned for nature and parkland enjoyment.

National Parks are extraordinary public lands where Canadians give priority to mother nature and ecological integrity.

I respectfully ask you to honour your government’s commitment to “meet or exceed” existing provincial policies by giving priority to “ecological integrity” within the legislation and management plan for the national Rouge Park.

I look forward to your favourable reply.

Sincerely, _____________________


Thank you for your support.


Jim Robb

for Friends of the Rouge Watershed, 647-891-9550

Ontario and Cabinet Minister Brad Duguid won’t let Ottawa put Rouge at Risk


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Brad Duguid editorial argues for commitment to Rouge ecosystem, Toronto Star, Sept. 3, 2014

Brad Duguid editorial argues for commitment to Rouge ecosystem, Toronto Star, Sept. 3, 2014

In June, the federal government introduced Bill C-40 to establish Rouge National Urban Park. Unfortunately, that legislation as it stands is silent on the Memorandum of Agreement requirement to meet or exceed provincial standards for ecological integrity.


Those amendments to Bill C-40 should explicitly state that Ontario’s existing provincial policies and plans that enhance ecological integrity of the proposed Rouge National Urban Park will be met or exceeded. The amendments should also include a commitment that the federal government will conform to provincial policies such as the Greenbelt Plan (2005), the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan, the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe and the Big Move.

Major environmental groups applaud Ontario’s refusal to transfer Rouge Park lands


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… the draft federal legislation does not prioritize ecological integrity in park management and it does not honour a January 2013 Memorandum of Agreement signed between Parks Canada and the Ontario government requiring written park policies that ‘meet or exceed provincial policies.’

NGO media statement (September 3, 2014) applauds provincial meet or exceed stance.

NGO media statement (Sept. 3, 2014) applauds provincial meet or exceed stance. Click on image to view PDF.

Third Edition of “How Much Habitat is Enough?”

How Much Habitat is Enough? Third Edition

Click image to download PDF.

This publication FroM Environment CANADA is used in “land use planning, restoration projects and land securement initiatives across the multiple jurisdictions and has become a standard conservation biology and landscape ecology reference.”
Some of this publication’s key recommendations …
  • 30% to 50% minimum forest cover,
  • the greater of 10% wetland cover per watershed or 40% of historic wetland cover,
  • less than 10% impervious cover in a watershed
  • average grassland patches sizes of greater than or equal to 50 hectares.

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