Ontario officially hands over 1,600 acres of Rouge Valley parkland

News Oct 21, 2017 by Rahul Gupta Scarborough Mirror

The Ontario government has formally handed back 1,600 acres of land to Parks Canada for use in the redevelopment of the Rouge Valley National Urban Park.

The handover ends years of acrimony between the province and Ottawa dating back to the Harper government, which effectively split Rouge Park into separate fiefdoms separately managed by the clashing governments. A resolution was reached back in June and both sides stated their intention to ensure ecological protections and unify the park lands.

On Saturday, representatives from the two governments announced the land transfer is complete.

“The transfer of lands will allow Parks Canada to complete (Rouge Valley National Urban Park) and means people will be able to continue enjoying its many benefits — such as paddling, swimming, hiking, cycling and even camping overnight,” said the Ontario Ministry of Infrastructure in a statement released Oct. 21. “Farming will also continue to be an important and protected activity in the park.”

Allowing farming to take place on the federally managed parklands was a key reason attributed to the standoff, with environmental watchdogs voicing concern leasing those lands for agriculture puts hundreds of species of plants and wildlife found in the park at risk. The agreement still allows for farming, leading  some environmental advocates to criticize the agreement for not doing enough to safeguard conservation. 

However Anna Baggio, of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) Wildlands League, said compromise is required to ensure the park is completed as planned.

“There are definitely challenges, but the point is to put nature first,” said Baggio, director of conservation planning for the group's Ontario chapter, who attended the announcement in Scarborough. “It’s important to establish a baseline and work with Parks Canada to improve conditions over time.”

A federal commitment was urgently required because of the unique nature of placing a wilderness area within a large urban area, said Baggio. Federal protections could potentially mandate road closures or other urban infrastructure if it negatively impacts the park.

Completing the urban park is critical towards satisfying a federal commitment to designate 17 per cent of Canadian land and water protected as conservation areas. Currently the number stands just over 10 per cent, well below the global average of 15 per cent, said Baggio.

After the Harper government announced plans for the park back in 2012, the Ontario government refused to hand over its lands without the addition of stronger federal environmental protections, which was dismissed by the federal Conservatives. As a result, the valley portion of the park in Scarborough remained with the province, leaving lands north into Markham under the jurisdiction of Parks Canada.

The 2015 election of Justin Trudeau ensured a potential resolution to the dispute thanks to the shared environmental goals of the two governments, but it wasn’t until June of this year an amendment to the Park Act, guaranteeing “ecological integrity” for the Rouge, received royal assent to become law, easing the way for the transfer of provincial lands.

The land transfer now secures 80 per cent of the land allocated towards the Rouge park redevelopment

—with files from Mike Adler

Ontario officially hands over 1,600 acres of Rouge Valley parkland

Disputed lands will now go to Parks Canada for completion of urban national park

News Oct 21, 2017 by Rahul Gupta Scarborough Mirror

The Ontario government has formally handed back 1,600 acres of land to Parks Canada for use in the redevelopment of the Rouge Valley National Urban Park.

The handover ends years of acrimony between the province and Ottawa dating back to the Harper government, which effectively split Rouge Park into separate fiefdoms separately managed by the clashing governments. A resolution was reached back in June and both sides stated their intention to ensure ecological protections and unify the park lands.

On Saturday, representatives from the two governments announced the land transfer is complete.

“The transfer of lands will allow Parks Canada to complete (Rouge Valley National Urban Park) and means people will be able to continue enjoying its many benefits — such as paddling, swimming, hiking, cycling and even camping overnight,” said the Ontario Ministry of Infrastructure in a statement released Oct. 21. “Farming will also continue to be an important and protected activity in the park.”

Related Content

Allowing farming to take place on the federally managed parklands was a key reason attributed to the standoff, with environmental watchdogs voicing concern leasing those lands for agriculture puts hundreds of species of plants and wildlife found in the park at risk. The agreement still allows for farming, leading  some environmental advocates to criticize the agreement for not doing enough to safeguard conservation. 

However Anna Baggio, of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) Wildlands League, said compromise is required to ensure the park is completed as planned.

“There are definitely challenges, but the point is to put nature first,” said Baggio, director of conservation planning for the group's Ontario chapter, who attended the announcement in Scarborough. “It’s important to establish a baseline and work with Parks Canada to improve conditions over time.”

A federal commitment was urgently required because of the unique nature of placing a wilderness area within a large urban area, said Baggio. Federal protections could potentially mandate road closures or other urban infrastructure if it negatively impacts the park.

Completing the urban park is critical towards satisfying a federal commitment to designate 17 per cent of Canadian land and water protected as conservation areas. Currently the number stands just over 10 per cent, well below the global average of 15 per cent, said Baggio.

After the Harper government announced plans for the park back in 2012, the Ontario government refused to hand over its lands without the addition of stronger federal environmental protections, which was dismissed by the federal Conservatives. As a result, the valley portion of the park in Scarborough remained with the province, leaving lands north into Markham under the jurisdiction of Parks Canada.

The 2015 election of Justin Trudeau ensured a potential resolution to the dispute thanks to the shared environmental goals of the two governments, but it wasn’t until June of this year an amendment to the Park Act, guaranteeing “ecological integrity” for the Rouge, received royal assent to become law, easing the way for the transfer of provincial lands.

The land transfer now secures 80 per cent of the land allocated towards the Rouge park redevelopment

—with files from Mike Adler

Ontario officially hands over 1,600 acres of Rouge Valley parkland

Disputed lands will now go to Parks Canada for completion of urban national park

News Oct 21, 2017 by Rahul Gupta Scarborough Mirror

The Ontario government has formally handed back 1,600 acres of land to Parks Canada for use in the redevelopment of the Rouge Valley National Urban Park.

The handover ends years of acrimony between the province and Ottawa dating back to the Harper government, which effectively split Rouge Park into separate fiefdoms separately managed by the clashing governments. A resolution was reached back in June and both sides stated their intention to ensure ecological protections and unify the park lands.

On Saturday, representatives from the two governments announced the land transfer is complete.

“The transfer of lands will allow Parks Canada to complete (Rouge Valley National Urban Park) and means people will be able to continue enjoying its many benefits — such as paddling, swimming, hiking, cycling and even camping overnight,” said the Ontario Ministry of Infrastructure in a statement released Oct. 21. “Farming will also continue to be an important and protected activity in the park.”

Related Content

Allowing farming to take place on the federally managed parklands was a key reason attributed to the standoff, with environmental watchdogs voicing concern leasing those lands for agriculture puts hundreds of species of plants and wildlife found in the park at risk. The agreement still allows for farming, leading  some environmental advocates to criticize the agreement for not doing enough to safeguard conservation. 

However Anna Baggio, of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) Wildlands League, said compromise is required to ensure the park is completed as planned.

“There are definitely challenges, but the point is to put nature first,” said Baggio, director of conservation planning for the group's Ontario chapter, who attended the announcement in Scarborough. “It’s important to establish a baseline and work with Parks Canada to improve conditions over time.”

A federal commitment was urgently required because of the unique nature of placing a wilderness area within a large urban area, said Baggio. Federal protections could potentially mandate road closures or other urban infrastructure if it negatively impacts the park.

Completing the urban park is critical towards satisfying a federal commitment to designate 17 per cent of Canadian land and water protected as conservation areas. Currently the number stands just over 10 per cent, well below the global average of 15 per cent, said Baggio.

After the Harper government announced plans for the park back in 2012, the Ontario government refused to hand over its lands without the addition of stronger federal environmental protections, which was dismissed by the federal Conservatives. As a result, the valley portion of the park in Scarborough remained with the province, leaving lands north into Markham under the jurisdiction of Parks Canada.

The 2015 election of Justin Trudeau ensured a potential resolution to the dispute thanks to the shared environmental goals of the two governments, but it wasn’t until June of this year an amendment to the Park Act, guaranteeing “ecological integrity” for the Rouge, received royal assent to become law, easing the way for the transfer of provincial lands.

The land transfer now secures 80 per cent of the land allocated towards the Rouge park redevelopment

—with files from Mike Adler