UPDATE| Honouring Commitments to Strengthen Rouge National (Urban) Park Legislation

… ask your new federal government to keep its promise 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 rougenationalparkfriends.com.

Thank you for thinking globally and acting locally

Note: Log into your email client before trying to send the letter. If pressing the button fails to generate an email for you, create your own and ensure it goes to Catherine.McKenna@parl.gc.ca; justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca; john.mccallum@parl.gc.ca; Jane.Philpott@parl.gc.ca; carolyn.bennett@parl.gc.ca; kirsty.duncan@parl.gc.ca; stephane.dion@parl.gc.ca.

The Letter …

RE: UPDATE| Honouring Commitments to Strengthen Rouge National (Urban) Park Legislation

Dear Honourable Catherine McKenna,

Thank you for introducing Bill C-18 to amend the flawed Rouge National Urban Park Act (RNUP Act) and make ecological integrity the top park priority.

Please honour other Liberal “Party Approved” commitments by also adopting the following amendments:

• A new RNUP Act section 9 statement such as: “work plans which support and complement the timely implementation of pre-existing Rouge Park, Greenbelt, Oak Ridges Moraine and Watershed Plans”;
• Addition of the words “enhancing, restoring” in section 4 of the RNUP Act;
• Addition of more publicly-owned Greenbelt lands to help create a 100+ km2 National Rouge Park.

These additional amendments are necessary to:

• honour the Liberal “Party Approved” commitments of 15 GTA candidates elected as Liberal MPs;
• honour the Canada and Ontario agreement to “meet or exceed” Ontario ORM and Greenbelt policies;
• provide the explicit Greenbelt and ORM conformity amendment requested by Ontario.

The implementation of pre-existing Ontario Conservation Plans is necessary to:

• improve Lake Ontario’s health and fulfill the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement;
• mitigate climate change and downstream pollution, flooding and erosion liabilities;
• protect and improve fish and wildlife habitat, biodiversity and ecological integrity;
• improve public access to public park lands in Canada’s most populous and under-protected region; and
• restore the Greenbelt and Rouge Park “main ecological corridor” and the First Nation “Carrying Place” Trail between Lake Ontario and the Oak Ridges Moraine.

Approximately 75% of the publicly-owned lands in Rouge Park are currently inaccessible to the public due to subsidized leases to rural residents and farmers and government employees and their families and friends.

The primary crops grown on the leased lands in Rouge Park are soybeans and cattle corn for animal feed and fuel additives — not locally available food products.

If this taxpayer subsidized status quo is hastily frozen by thirty year lease extensions, Canadians will continue to be excluded from most of the publicly-owned lands in this national park and Canadians will forfeit:

• $3.5+ billion worth of park ecological services such as mitigation of pollution, climate change and flooding;
• $100+ million due to lease subsidies and the absence of open and competitive leasing of public land.

Millions of GTA residents are relying on the implementation of Ontario’s Greenbelt, ORM, Rouge Park and Watershed Conservation Plans to buffer the impacts of growth and climate change and better protect human health and quality of life.

The implementation of these science-based and democratically-approved Ontario Conservation Plans will still leave approximately half of the public lands in Rouge Park available for leasing beyond 2050.

Therefore, the Federal Government has sufficient latitude to provide the promised legislative support for Ontario’s Conservation Plans while dealing equitably with people leasing publicly-owned lands in a national park.

Your government can and should demonstrate integrity and create a positive National Rouge Park legacy by providing legislative support for the implementation of pre-existing Ontario Conservation Plans within a 100+ km2 National Rouge Park.

Sincerely,

 

Your name and municipality or riding

ORIGINAL (Mar 15, 2016)| Honouring Commitments to Strengthen Rouge National (Urban) Park Legislation

Last spring many of you asked your new federal government to keep its promise by sending the following letter to provincial and federal politicians:

The Letter …

RE: Honouring Commitments to Strengthen Rouge National (Urban) Park Legislation

Dear Honourable Catherine McKenna,

Rouge Park is public land within one of Canada’s most endangered eco-zones, its most populous region and its most under-protected region in terms of national parks.

In 2015, the Liberal Party of Canada (LPC), the NDP Party and the Green Party, all agreed to support amendments to the last government’s flawed Rouge National (Urban) Park legislation to:

  1. make the restoration and maintenance of ecological integrity the top park priority;
  2. ensure implementation of the Greenbelt and Rouge Park “main ecological corridor” and science based watershed and Great Lakes water quality improvement plans;
  3. add additional public lands to make progress towards a 100 km2 Park.

Contrary to the fears of some, the amended legislation can prioritize ecological integrity, the Rouge Park “main ecological corridor” and watershed improvement plans, while reasonably accommodating farm leases on public lands in the Park.   The Greenbelt and Rouge Park “main ecological corridor” is less than 20% the average park width, leaving room for environmentally sustainable farming.

Based on science and the recommendations of Environment Canada, existing Rouge Park and Watershed Plans identify areas for continued farming and areas for restoring forest and wetland cover on public lands.  Forest and wetland restoration is necessary to: a) improve water quality and the health of our Lake Ontario watersheds and water sources; b) improve habitat for rare and endangered species; c) improve access to public parklands to enhance public health and well-being; d) spread park use over a larger park area to avoid traffic, parking and trail congestion problems and trampling of sensitive areas; and e) absorb water, carbon and pollutants to reduce growing flooding, erosion and pollution liabilities.

The implementation of Rouge Park and Watershed Plans is necessary to buffer the impacts of urban growth and climate change.  In 2013, one severe rain storm cost the GTA almost $1 billion in flood damages and a severe ice storm left thousands without heat and electricity for days.

Long before European settlement and widespread deforestation, the Rouge Watershed was home to indigenous people.  Restoring the Rouge Park “main ecological corridor” will help to recreate the historic “Carrying Place Trail” and its indigenous landscape between Lake Ontario and the Oak Ridges Moraine.

A 2016 Globe and Mail Article quotes retired Parks Canada Superintendent Kevin Van Tighem:

“What is needed right now is top-down change: real leadership from a government, minister and CEO who deeply love the idea of national parks as places free from artifice, commodification and commercialization, where nature rules and all Canadians are free to discover the wild and the natural.”

GTA residents want a first-class National Rouge Park, not the substandard National Urban Park which the last government proposed. Rouge Park’s lands are natural and rural, not urban.  Therefore, the word urban should be deleted from the park name.

Canadians want environmental leadership and legislation which requires the implementation of science-based plans to improve the stability of our climate and the health of our watersheds, ecosystems and communities.

I respectfully ask you to prioritize ecological integrity, the Rouge Park “main ecological corridor” and watershed improvement plans within the amended legislation for a 100 km2 National Rouge Park.

I look forward to hearing from you about your plans to implement this real change.

Sincerely,

 

Your name and municipality or riding

Many Eastern GTA candidates support stronger legislation and plan for a 100+ km2 Rouge National Park

Think Globally, Act Locally

Locally, a survey of candidates in 16 eastern GTA ridings by Friends of the Rouge Watershed shows that most candidates support amendments that would strengthen the Rouge National Park legislation and Plan by:

  1. Implementing existing Rouge Park, Watershed, Greenbelt and ORM Conservation Plans;
  2. Giving priority to the restoration and maintenance of ecological integrity in Rouge Park;
  3. Implementing the Greenbelt / Rouge Park “main ecological corridor” and science-based habitat recommendations;
  4. Enlarging Rouge Park to 100+ km2 by including additional public parklands and Greenbelt lands;
  5. Removing the dangerous misnomer “Urban” from the park name.

With respect to the 16 ridings surveyed and the above amendments to the federal Rouge Park legislation and Plan:

    • The NDP Party and 14 NDP candidates said “yes” to all five questions;
    • One NDP candidate responded in favour of questions 1 through 4;
    • One NDP candidate did not reply;
    • Ten Liberal candidates said “yes” to all five questions;
    • Six Liberal candidates responded in favour of questions 1 through 4;
    • The Green Party and all four Green candidates contacted said “yes” to all five questions;
    • The Conservative Party and its candidates did not reply.

“It is encouraging that so many federal candidates are willing to act locally to amend the Rouge National Park legislation to prioritize ecological integrity and respect conservation science” says FRW President Kevin O’Connor.

“There is a clear need to implement existing Rouge Park, Greenbelt, ORM and watershed plans to improve water quality and biodiversity, and combat dangerous pollution, climate change and flooding risks.” says Jim Robb of FRW.

candidate responses

 Five Rouge National Park Questions Posed to Candidates

Question 1:   If elected, will you support amendments to the Rouge National Urban Park Act and draft park management plan to support the implementation of the:    Greenbelt Act and Plan (2005);  Oak Ridges Moraine (ORM) Conservation Act (2001) and Plan (2002); Rouge Park Management Plan (1994) and Rouge North Management Plan (2001);  Little Rouge Corridor Management Plan (2007); Rouge Park Natural Heritage Action Plan (2008); and Rouge (2007) & Duffins (2003) Watershed Plans.

Question 2:  If elected, will you support the following amended wording for section 6(1) of the Rouge National Urban Park Act as proposed in the Bill introduced by MP Rathika Sitsabaiesan?   “The Minister must, when considering any aspect of the management of the Park, give priority to the restoration and maintenance of ecological integrity through the protection and restoration of natural resources and natural processes, while also giving consideration to cultural heritage, farming and infrastructure needs.”

Question 3:  If elected, will you support amendments to the Rouge National Urban Park Act and management plan to ensure timely implementation of the Greenbelt and Rouge Park North “main ecological corridor” and Environment Canada’s science-based recommendations for improving biological diversity and water quality?

Question 4:  If elected, will you support enlarging the National Rouge Park to 100+ km2 by including existing Rouge Valley and Park lands in Scarborough and Markham, and 24 km2 of additional federal lands in Pickering to shrink the Pickering Airport Zone?

Question 5:   If elected, will you support amending the Rouge National Urban Park Act to remove the dangerous misnomer “Urban” from the park name.

Attached please find:

  1. Copies of Green, NDP and Liberal responses to the five questions
  2. The Rouge Park Questions with supporting background information

For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:

Jim Robb, Friends of the Rouge Watershed Phone: 647-891-9550, Email: jimrobb@frw.ca

 

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

pm@pm.gc.ca; Minister@ec.gc.ca; colin.carrie.c1a@parl.gc.ca

Step 2: Copy the following contact list into your email “Cc” window
Joe.Oliver@parl.gc.ca; Chris.Alexander.C1@parl.gc.ca;
lisa.raitt@parl.gc.ca; harold.albrecht@parl.gc.ca; john.mckay@parl.gc.ca;
John.McCallum@parl.gc.ca; peter.vanloan.c1@parl.gc.ca; Corneliu.Chisu@parl.gc.ca; CEOParksCanada@pc.gc.ca; alan.latourelle@pc.gc.ca; andrew.campbell@pc.gc.ca; bduguid.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org; leigh@frw.ca; jimrobb@frw.ca

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
management;
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, _____________________

Address


Thank you for your support.

Sincerely,

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.