Rouge Park, as it exists today, is one of North America's largest urban parks, currently spanning 47 square kilometres in the eastern sector of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Located within the heart of Canada's largest and most diverse metropolitan area, it is an assembly of natural, cultural, agricultural and recreational lands within a boundary that overlaps private properties, and municipal and provincial infrastructure corridors, within the City of Toronto and the towns of Markham and Pickering.
The park has a rich diversity of natural and cultural heritage resources, including: a rare Carolinian forest; numerous species at risk; a national historic site; geological outcrops from the interglacial age that are internationally significant; and, in-situ evidence of human history dating back over 10,000 years, including some of Canada's oldest known Aboriginal historic sites and villages.
In 2010, a review of the parks governance, organization and finance concluded that a new model was required which led to the recommendation to create a national urban park. A public opinion poll was commissioned resulting in an overwhelming 88% of respondents supporting the concept of establishing Rouge Park as Canada's first national urban park.
Children enjoying Rouge Park at the mouth of Lake Ontario.© Parks Canada
The Government of Canada announced in the 2011 Speech from the Throne its commitment to work towards the creation of a national urban park in the Rouge Valley. The opportunity to establish Rouge Park under the stewardship of Parks Canada, as the first national urban park, builds on the success of the Agency's past efforts and is well aligned with its current priority to meaningfully reach Canada's increasingly diverse urban population. Since its inception 100 years ago, Parks Canada has played and continues to play a vital role in preserving and presenting heritage areas representative of Canada's vast natural landscapes and rich history.
Parks Canada is excited about this groundbreaking initiative. We envision the building of a "people's park", where connections are forged between the people of this great nation and the elements that make us truly Canadian. The park's proximity to Canada's largest city – and 20 percent of our nation's population – is an excellent opportunity to engage current and future generations of stewards towards ensuring the Rouge Valley's rich natural and cultural heritage is protected for the benefit, education and enjoyment of Canadians.