, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

In 2011, we are celebrating a century of excellence by Parks Canada, protecting and presenting significant examples of Canada’s natural and cultural heritage.

Canada’s existing 42 National Parks represent bold, long-term visions which protect and nurture important parts of our identity, character and country.

As the maps below outline, the federal government owns 57+ km2 of “Greenbelt” designated lands in north Markham and Pickering surrounding the potential Pickering Airport lands.

Adding these 57 km2 of publicly owned “Greenbelt” lands to Rouge Park will create a spectacular 100 km2 Rouge National Park which links Lake Ontario to the Oak Ridges Moraine.

Creating a 100+ km2 Rouge National Park, on public land in Canada’s most populous region, will be a fitting celebration of Parks Canada’s 100th birthday.

We will need foresight from our elected leaders and Parks Canada to protect enough public land in Rouge National Park to:

1. protect and restore a significant part of Canada’s most endangered Eco-zone, the Carolinian Life Zone (the Eco-zone with the fewest natural parks);

2. accommodate growing public enjoyment of Rouge National Park without degrading its natural and cultural treasures and “National Park” quality of experience;

3. protect, restore and expand habitat for many regionally, provincially and nationally rare species (e.g. Atlantic salmon, red side dace, Blanding’s turtle);

4. improve water quality in the Rouge River and at Rouge Beach to fulfill Great Lakes Water Quality Agreements;

5. connect Lake Ontario and the Oak Ridges Moraine and the Rouge, Petticoat and Duffins Creek watersheds with a sustainable Natural Heritage System;

6. connect the Waterfront Trail along Lake Ontario with the Cross Canada Trail in the Oak Ridges Moraine;

7. improve water quality, air quality, ecosystem health, outdoor education, outdoor recreation and public health;

8. protect lands for local, healthy, sustainable food production.

Rouge National Park needs to be at least 100 km2 to meet its ecological, social and economic potential.

Working together, we can overcome the challenges and create a timeless and priceless 100 km2 Rouge National Park legacy for all Canadians.

This lasting legacy can become reality with the vision, leadership and involvement of Greater Toronto Area (GTA) residents, our elected leaders and Parks Canada.