… with these quick and simple steps:
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Thank you for thinking globally and acting locally for a healthier environment and future
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The Letter …
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:
- Fall considerably short of accepted standards for protected areas, urban or wilderness, says Stephen Woodley, a former chief scientist with Parks Canada;
- Fail to prioritize ecological integrity, contrary to existing Rouge Park Plans and provincial and national park legislation;
- Ignore Environment Canada’s own science-based recommendations for improving biological diversity, watershed health and Lake Ontario water quality;
- 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:
- Prioritize the protection and restoration of ecological integrity and watershed health;
- Support the implementation of Ontario Greenbelt, Oak Ridges Moraine and Rouge Park Plans, and watershed plans to improve Great Lakes water quality;
- Implement the Greenbelt and Rouge Park “main ecological corridor” and Environment Canada’s “How Much Habitat is Enough” recommendations;
- Create a 100+ km2 Rouge National Park linking Lake Ontario to the Moraine;
- 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