Ontario Gives Land to Parks Canada for first national park in a city; New App for the Park Launched
TORONTO, Oct. 21, 2017 /CNW/ - The establishment of North America's largest urban park has taken a giant leap forward. Today, the Government of Ontario transferred and released its interest in 22.8 km2 of lands to Parks Canada to help complete Rouge National Urban Park.
The Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Indigenous Services and Member of Parliament for Markham-Stouffville, and Gary Anandasangaree, Member of Parliament for Scarborough-Rouge Park, made the announcement on behalf of the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, along with the Honourable Brad Duguid, Ontario's Minister of Economic Development and Growth, on behalf of the Honourable Bob Chiarelli, Ontario's Minister of Infrastructure.
As part of this announcement, Ontario will immediately transfer 6.5 km2 of land, as well as the provincial interest in 15.2 km2 of land managed by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), and 1.1 km2 of land managed by the City of Markham.
Parks Canada now directly manages or has an interest in nearly 80% (62.9 km2) of the 79.1 km2 of lands identified for Rouge National Urban Park by all levels of government. The remaining land transfers with neighbouring jurisdictions are expected to take place in the coming months.
The governments of Canada and Ontario marked this significant milestone with a celebration in the Bob Hunter area of Rouge National Urban Park.
In 2017, the Government of Canada passed amendments to the Rouge National Urban Park Act, which prioritizes ecological integrity in the management of the park, while also providing long-term certainty for the park's farmers, so they can continue carrying out their important agricultural activities. The amendments ensure the Rouge Valley will have the strongest ecological protections in its history, while affirming the role of park farmers so that they can continue to provide food for Canadians as they have been doing for the past two centuries.
The first of its kind in Canada – a national park in a city – Rouge National Urban Park protects nature, culture, and agriculture in an integrated way and stretches across the cities of Toronto, Markham, and Pickering and the Township of Uxbridge, from Lake Ontario to the Oak Ridges Moraine.
As part of the event, a new Rouge National Urban Park mobile app, created by University of Toronto Scarborough students in partnership with Parks Canada, was launched. Available on iPhone and Android devices, the bilingual app allows visitors to explore the park's rich natural, cultural, and agricultural heritage through an interactive map and guide, and receive GPS-triggered "fun facts" in real-time while exploring the park. The Rouge app complements the existing Parks Canada national app.
As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017, the Government of Canada invites Canadians to experience the outdoors and learn more about our history at Rouge National Urban Park.
"I am pleased that ecological integrity has been identified as the first priority in managing Rouge National Urban Park while providing long-term certainty for the park's farmers. Today, we are one step closer to a complete Rouge National Urban Park, which stretches from Lake Ontario to the Oak Ridges Moraine. This major step in conservation is an example of what can be accomplished when governments, Indigenous Peoples, farmers, conservationists, and community leaders and groups work together towards a shared vision."
The Honourable Jane Philpott,
Minister of Indigenous Services and Member of Parliament for Markham-Stouffville
"Ontario's transfer of more than 1,600 acres for the expansion of Rouge National Urban Park permanently protects green space in the Greater Toronto Area. The provincial lands provide a critical link that ensures the park stretches from the Oak Ridges Moraine to Lake Ontario. I can't think of anything else that I've worked on as an elected representative that's more exciting than this lasting legacy for our children and grandchildren to enjoy for years to come."
The Honourable Brad Duguid, Ontario's Minister of Economic Development and Growth, and Member of Provincial Parliament for Scarborough-Centre
"Not only are we celebrating today's historic land transfer, but I am pleased to announce the launch of the new Rouge National Urban Park app that will inspire people to experience the outdoors and learn more about what makes Rouge National Urban Park one of Canada's newest national treasures. I applaud the innovation and creativity of the students from the University of Toronto Scarborough, who in partnership with Parks Canada, are helping Canadians connect to the park, which is within a one hour's drive of 20 per cent of Canada's population and accessible by public transit."
Member of Parliament for Scarborough–Rouge Park
- Once completed, Rouge National Urban Park will be more than 79 km2 in size, making it one of the world's largest protected areas in an urban setting – 23 times larger than Central Park in New York.
- Rouge National Urban Park is the first of its kind in Canada – a nationally protected area in an urban setting.
- Rouge National Urban Park is home to more than 1,700 species of plants and animals, over 10,000 years of human history and cultural heritage, and some of the rarest and most fertile farmland in Canada.
- Parks Canada's mobile app helps visitors plan their visit with tips and information on over 200 Parks Canada places and share their experiences on social media using fun and interactive Parks Canada-themed filters and stickers. For visitors to the Rouge, the Rouge app will help them navigate in the park with detailed information on local park trails, flora and fauna, and unique park features.
- The Rouge National Urban Park app features include: hiking achievement badges; comprehensive sections about park wildlife, plants, cultural and farming history; a reporting function that allows visitors to report wildlife, trail conditions and their favourite Rouge places to Parks Canada; and a memory game for kids of all ages. Once the app is downloaded, it does not require the use of any data and can be used with full functionality in the park offline.
ROUGE NATIONAL URBAN PARK
Located within Canada's most populated and culturally diverse metropolitan area – the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) – Rouge National Urban Park is Canada's first ever national urban park.
The "national urban park" protected area model adds a new category to Parks Canada's family of federal protected areas, alongside national parks, national historic sites, and national marine conservation areas. Rouge National Urban Park positions Canada as an international urban conservation leader by creating the world's strongest dedicated legislation for an urban protected area.
Totaling 79.1 km2 once fully complete, Rouge National Urban Park is the largest urban park of its kind in North America – 19 times larger than Stanley Park in Vancouver, 23 times larger than Central Park in New York, and close to 50 times larger than Toronto's High Park.
Rouge National Urban Park celebrates the diversity of the Rouge's natural and cultural landscapes, its unique urban setting, the presence of working farms in the park, and the opportunities for connection, stewardship, community engagement and volunteerism.
Rouge National Urban Park has a rich diversity of resources, landscapes and heritage, including:
- more than 1,700 species of plants, birds, fish, mammals, insects, reptiles and amphibians;
- rare Carolinian forests and 27 species-at-risk;
- large tracts of rare Class-1 farmland – the richest, rarest and most fertile in Canada;
- and human history dating back more than 10,000 years, including some of Canada's oldest known Indigenous sites and travel routes.
In collaboration with park farmers, conservation groups, Indigenous partners and community associations, Parks Canada is using leading-edge science in Rouge National Urban Park to:
- restore native forests, wetlands and meadows;
- enhance the health and productivity of park farmland;
- inventory and conserve the Rouge's archaeological and cultural heritage sites;
- control invasive species;
- and protect and recover endangered species.
In collaboration with various partners throughout the GTA, Parks Canada now offers year-round programming in Rouge National Urban Park, including Learn-to Camp, weekly guided walks, Frog Watch, Taste of the Trail, and the Fall Walks Festival, to name a few.
Parks Canada welcome areas in the Rouge are now located in Toronto near the Toronto Zoo and in the northern area of the park in the City of Markham. These areas host special events and educational programming, and staff are available to help visitors plan their trip to the Rouge and other Parks Canada sites across the country.
The creation of Rouge National Urban Park is the culmination of more than 30 years of hard work and efforts by community leaders and organizations to protect this land in perpetuity. Over the next several years, Parks Canada will enhance Rouge National Urban Park facilities to include: flagship visitor and education centres; trailhead orientation kiosks; welcome and wayfinding signage; interpretive programming and exhibits; and an expanded and comprehensive trail system in the park and connecting park areas to surrounding communities in Toronto, Markham, Pickering and Uxbridge.
For more info: www.parkscanada.ca/rouge
NEW MOBILE APP FOR ROUGE NATIONAL URBAN PARK
Free app with map and real-time guide highlights natural wonders and
thousands of years of human history
A buzzing phone in Rouge National Urban Park doesn't have to break the spell of the beautiful outdoors. With a beautifully designed new mobile app created in partnership by Parks Canada and students at the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC), it can be an invitation to dive deeper into the park's forests, wetlands, farm fields, and rich history.
In 2016, in collaboration with Parks Canada, a team of students based at UTSC's entrepreneurial incubator known as 'The Hub' began working on a standalone app to illuminate the wonders of Canada's first ever national urban park. The students gathered information from local experts, Parks Canada staff, long-time residents, volunteers, community groups, Indigenous partners, scientists, historians, and park visitors to create a program that functions like a seasoned tour guide in the pockets of visitors.
Beyond offering general park information on trails and activities, the app is loaded with GPS-triggered "hotspots" that share fascinating fun facts corresponding to distinct places in the park – all in real time. Step onto a pedestrian overpass rife with calling birds and an alert will tell you about a colony of swallows below who build their nests by carrying mouthfuls of mud from the Rouge River.
The app has a number of features to enhance visits, from achievement badges for hikers, memory games for kids, and important safety information. And because visitors are valuable eyes on the ground, the app has a function for visitors to share and report information such as wildlife sightings or dumped garbage with Parks Canada staff who can follow up using the GPS location shared.
The Hub is UTSC's entrepreneurship incubator, where aspiring entrepreneurs and bright minds create and launch new products, services, and business start-ups. Entrepreneurs in The Hub work with experienced coaches and mentors, guiding them in best practices of early-stage entrepreneurship.
The Rouge app complements perfectly the existing Parks Canada national app for trip planning. While Parks Canada's mobile app provides visitors with tips and information to plan their visit and share their experiences on social media using fun and interactive Parks Canada-themed filters and stickers, the Rouge app help visitors navigate in the park with detailed information on local park trails, flora and fauna, and unique park features.
The new app is available to download for free on iOS and Android devices (via Google Play or the App Store). Once downloaded, the app does not require the use of any data and can be used with full functionality in the park offline.
To download the app, visit Google Play or the App Store.
ROUGE NATIONAL URBAN PARK PROJECT AND
LAND ASSEMBLY MILESTONES
The creation of Rouge National Urban Park is the culmination of more than 30 years of hard work and efforts by community leaders and organizations to protect this land in perpetuity.
- June, 2011 – The Government of Canada commits to establishing Canada's first national urban park.
- May, 2012 - Parks Canada and its provincial and municipal partners identify proposed park boundaries.
- June, 2013 – The Province of Ontario commits to transfer lands to Parks Canada for Rouge National Urban Park via a land assembly agreement. Transport Canada also confirms their intention to transfer land to Parks Canada for Rouge National Urban Park.
- December, 2014 – Parks Canada signs a land assembly agreement for Rouge National Urban Park with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, the cities of Toronto, Markham and Pickering, and the municipalities of York and Durham.
- April, 2015 – The Government of Canada announces the transfer of 19.1 km2 of Transport Canada lands to Parks Canada – the very first lands for Rouge National Urban Park.
- May 15, 2015 – The national urban park is officially established when the Rouge National Urban Park Act comes into force.
- July, 2015 – The Government of Canada announces it will contribute additional Transport Canada lands to Rouge National Urban Park.
- April, 2017 – Transport Canada transfers an additional 21 km2 of lands to Parks Canada for Rouge National Urban Park. Parks Canada now manages more than half of the lands committed for Rouge National Urban Park.
- June, 2017 – Amendments to the Rouge National Urban Park Act receive Royal Assent. These amendments ensure that Rouge National Urban Park will have the strongest possible ecological protections, while providing greater certainty for park farmers to continue to provide local food as they have been doing for the past two centuries.
- October 21, 2017 - The Province of Ontario transfers and releases its interest in 22.8 km2 of lands to Parks Canada for inclusion in Rouge National Urban Park. Parks Canada now directly manages or has an interest in nearly 80% (62.9 km2) of the 79.1 km2 of lands identified or committed for the park by all jurisdictions. The remaining, smaller land transfers by neighbouring municipalities are expected to take place in the coming months.
SOURCE Parks Canada
For further information: Jeffrey Sinibaldi, Public Relations and Communications Officer, Rouge National Urban Park, Parks Canada, 647-271-8189, firstname.lastname@example.org; Media Relations, Parks Canada Agency, 855-862-1812, email@example.com; Daniel Bitonti, Office of Ontario's Minister of Economic Development and Growth, 416-325-7569, firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.twitter.com/parkscanada