Last fall many of you reminded the new federal government to keep its Rouge Park promises:

Thank you for thinking globally and acting locally

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,

 

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