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Ontario Nature Action Alert

Ontario Nature Action Alert

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Message from Ontario Nature

It’s not every day that you have an opportunity to provide input on a brand new national park. Now is your chance! Parks Canada has posted for public comment its draft Management Plan for the proposed Rouge National Urban Park. The comment period ends this Thursday October 30, 2014.

Ontario Nature has done a thorough review of the draft plan and we feel three key changes are needed. Please lend your voice to help ensure the Rouge National Urban Park will adequately protect wild species and wild spaces in the heavily developed Greater Toronto Area.

There are many positive elements to the plan such as commitments to: link Lake Ontario with the Oak Ridges Moraine; encourage community involvement in habitat restoration and monitoring efforts; support active transportation, car-pooling and shuttle networks to get to and from the park; implement environmentally beneficial management practices on park farmland; and promote locally grown food. These elements should be retained and the draft management plan must be improved in the following ways:

  1. The plan must clearly prioritize ecological integrity and biodiversity conservation. The draft plan fails to prioritize the protection and restoration of the park’s natural features and values. Instead, it presents a vague vision of a “diverse landscape in Canada’s largest metropolitan area,” which offers “engaging and varied experiences.” The protection of natural, cultural and agricultural resources are all treated as on par, providing little guidance about how conflicts will be resolved.
  2. The plan must provide a coherent framework, with well-defined, measurable targets and set deadlines. The draft consists of a long list of actions and vague targets, with environmental considerations sprinkled throughout. There are not enough precise actions to be undertaken with associated deadlines.
  3. The plan should provide a clear framework for preventing adverse environmental impacts arising from the creation of new trails, and the introduction of new recreational activities and visitor services. The draft plan presents the park as a “true ‘People’s Park,’”and accordingly aims to increase the number of welcome areas, visitor services (equipment rentals, concession stands) and types of visitor experiences. Insufficient attention is paid to the risk of habitat fragmentation and adverse impacts arising from over-use.

Please join Ontario Nature in asking for improvements in these key areas. Rouge National Urban Park has the potential to protect one of the most vulnerable and ecologically diverse landscapes in the province, but only if the management plan sets clear priorities, objectives and targets consistent with that goal.

You can direct your comments to Parks Canada at: .

Please see the sample letter below to send to Parks Canada.
Dear Parks Canada,

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the draft management plan for Rouge National Urban Park. The establishment of this park represents a tremendous opportunity to conserve biodiversity and establish an important ecological corridor between Lake Ontario and the Oak Ridges Moraine. I urge you to strengthen the plan by:

  1. Clearly prioritizing ecological integrity and biodiversity conservation in park management;
  2. Providing a more coherent management framework, with well-defined, measurable targets and set deadlines; and
  3. Providing a clearer framework for preventing adverse environmental impacts arising from the creation of new trails, and the introduction of new recreational activities and visitor services.

Parks Canada should do everything in its power to protect this richly diverse yet vulnerable landscape. Only with clear direction and priorities will it be possible to ensure that nature thrives in this heavily developed part of the province.

For more information

For a copy of Ontario Nature’s submission on the draft management plan, please contact Joshua Wise, Greenway Program Manager at: .