2015-2018 Year in Review

2018 Year in Review

Another Historic Year for the Rouge

Rouge National Urban Park moved closer to completion with two more transfers of land – from the City of Pickering and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA).

  • May 4, 2018 – The City of Pickering transferred 10 parcels of land totalling 8.22 hectares (20.3 acres) to Parks Canada for Rouge National Urban Park.
  • November 1, 2018 – TRCA transferred more than 190 hectares (470 acres) of land in Bob Hunter Memorial Park to Parks Canada to help complete the park.

The Rouge also added some exciting new visitor offers last year:

  • In September, the Rouge National Urban Park First Nations Advisory Circle and Parks Canada partnered to host the park’s inaugural Earth Run in the Rouge and Indigenous Arts Celebration, which featured trail races, cultural performances, workshops and Indigenous art.
  • In October, one year after a successful launch of the Rouge app in English and French, a Simplified Chinese version of the app was released to celebrate the 2018 Canada-China Year of Tourism. The app is available to download on iOS and Android devices.
  • In 2018, new park signs were installed at trailheads, throughout the park and on local highways. 

More to Come in 2019

As the park continues to grow, look forward to more things to come in 2019:

  • The restoration of an additional 10 hectares of wildlife habitat throughout the park to support the recovery of species-at-risk in Rouge National Urban Park.
  • The opening of a brand new 19th Avenue welcome area in Markham south of Whitchurch-Stouffville, and the unveiling of major improvements to the Reesor day-use area in spring/summer 2019.
  • A new 4.3 km trail between the 19th Avenue welcome area and the Reesor day-use area in Markham.
  • Continued work on the remaining land transfers from the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, the Regional Municipality of York, and the cities of Toronto and Markham. 

Conservation Success Stories

Parks Canada continued to partner with the Toronto Zoo on the Blanding’s turtle head-start and reintroduction program. In June 2018, 49 more juvenile turtles were released into the Rouge, bringing the total number released since 2014 to 165 turtles. Parks Canada also worked with the Toronto Zoo and Indigenous partners from the Rouge National Urban Park First Nations Advisory Circle to monitor species-at-risk, including chorus frogs, milksnakes and three species of bats. Habitat restoration projects continued in 2018 and resulted in the restoration of 14.8 hectares of wetlands, streams, riparian habitat and forests. More than 10,000 native plants and 64 kg of seeds were planted in the park as part of this work.

The Rouge is also home to 127 heritage properties. Last year, the Parks Canada cultural heritage team worked with municipal staff to complete evaluations of all 81 heritage properties in the Markham area of the park. These evaluations define the heritage value of each property and will inform future work to conserve these important cultural resources. The cultural heritage team also completed a condition assessment and developed a conservation strategy for the Bentley-Carruthers House, a recognized Federal Heritage Building in the Pickering area of the park.

A Vibrant Farming Community

The Rouge is home to some of the last remaining working farms in the GTA and is unique among national parks in Canada in protecting agriculture alongside natural and cultural heritage. Much of the farmland in the Rouge is comprised of Class 1 soil – the richest, rarest, most fertile and most endangered soil in Canada.

The local farming community took part in several marquee events in the park last year. At Taste of the Trail in August, visitors sampled local treats and farm produce, including fresh sweet corn, maple syrup and honey. To wrap up the season, Sweet Ridge Farms created a picture-perfect pumpkin patch at the Fall Walks Festival in October. Hundreds of people stopped by to snap photos and purchase pumpkins over the festival weekend.

Park Wardens

Rouge National Urban Park’s wardens were hard at work in 2018 patrolling Parks Canada-managed lands and engaging with the local community at events such as the Canadian National Exhibition, the Markham Fair and the Whitchurch-Stouffville Remembrance Day Ceremony. The Rouge now has its very own set of rules that will contribute to stronger protections for the park’s unique natural, cultural and agricultural heritage. parkscanada.ca/rouge-rules.

Visitor Experience Highlights

The Parks Canada Visitor Experience team had another successful season in 2018. Visitor Services staff interacted with more than 18,500 visitors at our welcome areas between May and October, and more than 7,300 people participated in our in-park events throughout the year. 2018 saw the return of several signature events such as WinterRouge, Taste of the Trail and the Fall Walks Festival, as well as the addition of some new offers.

In June, the park hosted Rouge After Dark, a special nighttime event that included a campfire, traditional storytelling with our Indigenous partners and interactive family-friendly activities focused on learning all about the nocturnal creatures of the Rouge.

In September, the Rouge National Urban Park First Nations Advisory Circle and Parks Canada organized the park’s inaugural Earth Run in the Rouge and Indigenous Arts Celebration. The event included trail races as well as a post-race celebration of the arts, culture, knowledge and histories of the traditional peoples who share a historic connection to the Rouge. The Advisory Circle consists of 10 First Nations with an expressed interest, and historic and cultural connection to the park. Parks Canada works collaboratively with the Advisory Circle on park establishment and operations, including many park events. 

Parks Canada in the Community

Community Outreach: Parks Canada staff made more than 27,000 contacts at 90 different community events, festivals and presentations throughout the GTA in 2018.

Learn-to Camp: Close to 300 visitors learned skills like how to pitch a tent and build a campfire at our eight in-park overnight Learn-to Camp events last year. Almost 30,000 people took part in Learn-to Camp workshops and drop-in sessions across the GTA.

Rouge Express: Parkbus, TD, MEC and Parks Canada continued a partnership to provide free shuttle service from downtown Toronto to the Rouge on weekends throughout the summer and fall. Over 1,250 visitors rode the TD Rouge Express to the park in 2018, including 378 people participating in NatureLink, a program that aims to connect new Canadians to nature.

Photographer-in-Residence: Ishkhan Ghazarian joined the Rouge as the park’s third OCAD University photographer-in-residence. He staged a photo exhibition in December 2018 titled Memories of the Rouge and his photos are featured throughout this newsletter.

Mood Walks: Parks Canada continues to partner with the Scarborough Health Network to offer guided nature walks aimed at improving physical and mental health for youth experiencing mental health challenges.

Volunteers: Fifty-one new volunteers joined Rouge National Urban Park’s team of dedicated guided walk leaders, outreach and event volunteers, and photographers. This new cohort represents the largest intake of volunteers since the park’s establishment.



In loving memory of Bruce Grubbe, dedicated and beloved Rouge National Urban Park volunteer.







2017 Year in Review

A big year for Canada’s national urban park

2017 was a watershed year for Rouge National Urban Park in the Greater Toronto Area.

Not only did the park host the official national launch of Parks Canada’s monumental 2017 season, but it also engaged with a record number of Canadians, offering more than 400 free events, educational programs, workshops and learn-to sessions inside and outside the park.

In collaboration with Indigenous partners, park farmers, volunteers, various levels of government, conservation groups and community organizations, Parks Canada also achieved a number of important legislative and land assembly milestones in conjunction with Canada’s national urban park.

On top of that, Parks Canada continued to work with its partners to enhance and protect the Rouge’s incredible natural, cultural and agricultural heritage, and to provide quality experiences for its visitors.

Significant highlights included:

  • April 1, 2017 – Transport Canada transferred an additional 21 km2 of lands in Pickering and Uxbridge (Durham region) to Parks Canada for Rouge National Urban Park.
  • June 19, 2017 – Bill C-18 received Royal Assent. Bill C-18 amended the Rouge National Urban Park Act to ensure the park has the strongest possible ecological protections, while also providing additional certainty for park farmers.
  • Oct. 21, 2017 – The Government of Ontario transferred and released its interest in 22.8 km2 of lands to Parks Canada for the national urban park.

As we look ahead to another exciting year in the Rouge in 2018, Parks Canada now manages or has an interest in nearly 80 per cent of the 79.1 km2 of lands identified for the national urban park – from Lake Ontario to the Oak Ridges Moraine.

A MESSAGE FROM PARKS CANADA

Last year was the busiest one yet for Canada’s national urban park.

In addition to celebrating the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation, Rouge National Urban Park also welcomed numerous visitors and hosted many in-park and community events, including signature national events such as BioBlitz, Canada Day, Illuminations and more.

In collaboration with our partners, we also completed several restoration projects in the park, and continued to work with our community and Indigenous partners on initiatives to meaningfully connect with Canadians and visitors.

Rouge National Urban Park also took a big leap forward in October when the Government of Ontario transferred and released its interest in lands to Parks Canada to help complete the park. Officially established in 2015, the Rouge is now well past the halfway mark to becoming the largest urban park in North America!

No matter if you’re a long-time visitor, or have yet to venture out into the national urban park, the Rouge has something for everyone. All of us at Parks Canada are excited for the year ahead, and we look forward to seeing you in the park, on the trails, or in the community in 2018.

 – Pamela L. Veinotte, Field Unit Superintendent, Rouge National Urban Park

Conservation Success Stories

In 2017, Parks Canada continued to work with its partners on important ecological restoration and farmland enhancement projects throughout the national urban park. A total of 10 new projects were initiated in the Little Rouge watershed and, for the first time since Parks Canada started managing land here, the West Duffins watershed.

The focus of these new restoration projects included stream bank and upland forest restoration, water quality improvements through wetland construction, as well as wetland habitat improvement for birds, amphibians and other small mammals – all of which contribute to restoring habitat suitable for important cool and cold water fish species that historically existed in the park.

As part of this work in 2017, more than 20 hectares of wetlands and riparian and forest habitat were restored in the Rouge. Additionally, in collaboration with our partners, more than 33,000 native trees, perennials, shrubs and aquatic plants were planted in the park. This brings the total number of restoration projects initiated and completed in Rouge National Urban Park to 41 since 2015.

Other conservation highlights include:

  • The release of 49 baby Blanding’s turtles, bringing the total number of Blanding’s turtles reintroduced in the Rouge by Parks Canada and the Toronto Zoo to more than 150 since 2014.
  • The stabilisation and initial recapitalization of cultural heritage assets located in the park, such as the Locust Hill schoolhouse, the David Burke House, the Wellington Wideman House and the John B. Miller House.

Visitor Experience Highlights

Last year was a blockbuster year for Parks Canada’s Visitor Experience team in Rouge National Urban Park.

In addition to seeing an almost fourfold increase in visits to our welcome areas, we also welcomed more than 15,000 guests and participants at our 25 in-park events throughout 2017.

Welcome areas staff also helped people to plan their visits to other Parks Canada places across the country, distributing more than 15,000 free 2017 Parks Canada Discovery Passes throughout the season.

Other visitor highpoints from 2017 include:

  • The return of several of our marquee park events, including WinterRouge, Taste of the Trail, Art Day and the Fall Walks Festival. Many of these events grew significantly in popularity, attracting a record number of visitors, as well as community and Indigenous partners to collaborate on program delivery.
  • Welcoming more than 50 new Canadians at our very first in-park citizenship ceremony in the Bob Hunter Memorial area of the park, in partnership with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
  • In addition to our existing welcome areas in the Toronto and Markham areas of the park, introducing roving pop-up welcome areas in various parts of the park to better serve our visitors.
  • Opening five new signature Parks Canada oTENTik accommodations at the Glen Rouge Campground, which are now available for booking through the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority website: camping.trca.on.ca

First Nations Advisory Circle

Rouge National Urban Park’s First Nations Advisory Circle is comprised of representatives from 10 First Nations with an expressed interest and historic and cultural connection to the park.

To date, Parks Canada has worked collaboratively with Advisory Circle members on a number of important park initiatives, including archaeological assessments, restoration projects and visitor experience initiatives such as Taste of the Trail, Learn-to Camp and others.

Parks Canada looks forward to continuing to work on Rouge initiatives and programs with our Indigenous partners through the Circle and our meaningful and positive relationship, which we deeply value and respect.

Parks Canada in the Community

In 2017, Parks Canada staff made more than 75,000 contacts at over 100 festivals, libraries, community events and public spaces throughout the Greater Toronto Area. Here’s a sample of community outreach highlights from 2017:

  • Canada 150 Rouge Express: Parkbus, TD, MEC and Parks Canada provided a free shuttle service for 2500 people from downtown Toronto to the Rouge, with 90 per cent of riders being first-time visitors!
  • Learn-to Camp: More than 26,500 GTA residents took part in our Learn-to Camp programming, largely through partnerships with public libraries, YMCA chapters, community centres and municipal parks.
  • The Rouge App: Developed in partnership with University of Toronto Scarborough, the park’s first ever app was launched in the fall of 2017. The app uses GPS technology to transform a visitor’s phone into a virtual tour guide. Users can explore a detailed info guide, report sightings and track their hikes. The app is free to download on iOS (Apple App Store) and Android (Google Play Store) devices.
  • Photographer-in-Residence: Parks Canada hired the Rouge’s second ever OCAD University photographer-in-residence, Cassandra Smyth, whose images are featured throughout this newsletter. She also staged two well-received photo exhibitions of her work in the park, entitled The Rouge: An Urban Wilderness.
  • Mood Walks: This partnership with the Scarborough and Rouge Hospital promotes activity in nature to improve physical and mental health through guided walks for youth experiencing mental health challenges.
2016 Year in Review

A MESSAGE FROM PARKS CANADA

Happy New Year and best wishes for 2017 from Parks Canada and Rouge National Urban Park.

Over the course of this past year, Parks Canada has been working diligently in the Rouge completing various restoration projects, providing quality visitor experiences for guests, partnering with our communities on exciting new initiatives, and making progress on land assembly for Canada’s first national urban park.

Our success in 2016 would not have been possible without collaboration with our First Nations Advisory Circle, park farmers, volunteers and conservation groups, as well as other levels of government, countless individuals and numerous community organizations. We sincerely look forward to continuing to work with all of our valued partners and stakeholders in the year ahead.

As we look back and reflect on our achievements, we’re also busy planning and preparing for 2017, which is the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation. During this year’s Canada 150 celebrations, Rouge National Urban Park and the GTA will host many outstanding special events and programs to commemorate Canada’s sesquicentennial year.

To find out more about Rouge National Urban Park, including upcoming Canada 150 events in the park and around the GTA, please check out our social media channels or our website parkscanada.ca/rouge

We look forward to welcoming you to the park and celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday with you in 2017!

-Pamela L. Veinotte Field Unit Superintendent, Rouge National Urban Park

2016 MILESTONES: ROUGE NATIONAL URBAN PARK

  • On Feb. 9, 2016, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, announced Parks Canada was contributing $150,000 to the Toronto Zoo to help re-establish a healthy, local population of Blanding’s turtles in Rouge National Urban Park.

  • On June 9, 2016, the Government of Canada tabled Bill C-18, which includes amendments to the Rouge National Urban Park Act that will protect the Rouge’s important ecosystems and heritage, as well as ensure that the ecological integrity of the park is the first priority in the park’s management. The amendments also provide greater certainty for park farmers.

  • On June 18, 2016, the Ontario Government reaffirmed its commitment to transfer its owned or controlled lands to Parks Canada for Rouge National Urban Park.

  • On June 21, 2016, Parks Canada and the Toronto Zoo partnered, for the third year in a row, on the release of 36 more baby Blanding’s turtles – a nationally and provincially-threatened species. To date, 67 baby Blanding’s turtles have been released in Rouge National Urban Park. More releases are to come.

  • On Oct. 22, 2016, in collaboration with the Toronto & Region Conservation Authority, City of Markham, York Region and Province of Ontario, Parks Canada celebrated the official opening of Bob Hunter Memorial Park, named after the well-known Canadian environmentalist and Greenpeace co-founder.

  • Second Reading of Bill C-18 concluded on Nov. 25, 2016. The Bill was referred to the Standing Committee on Environmental and Sustainable Development, which reviewed the Bill and reported it back to the House of Commons on Dec. 14, 2016, without amendment.

  • In 2016, the online presence of Rouge National Urban Park significantly increased, achieving close to 1 million impressions with our various online audiences!

  • In 2016, Parks Canada offered more than 300 free educational programs and public events inside the park, and attended more than 50 community events and festivals, including the CNE and Markham Fair.

CONSERVATION SUCCESS STORIES

In 2016, 16 new aquatic habitat restoration projects were completed in the Rouge, primarily concentrating on Katabokokonk Creek, a tributary of the Little Rouge River. Projects included restoration of important wetlands and swamps, enhancement of fish habitat and aquatic connectivity, planting of native species, and removal of invasive species.

The goal of these projects is to improve water quality and aquatic habitat, including the reduction of soil erosion and ultimately the restoration of habitat suitable for important cool and cold water fish species that historically existed in the park. The work also helped to enhance the function of farmland in the park, including improving farm drainage and reducing the loss of valuable agricultural soils.

In 2016, 14.03 hectares of wetland and riparian habitat, 15.9 hectares of forest habitat and 1,160 metres of stream bank were restored and rehabilitated. We also installed two new culverts to improve fish movement and aquatic habitat, and planted almost 19,000 native trees and shrubs in the park with the help of our Indigenous partners and hundreds of elementary and high school students from across the GTA. In partnership with tenant farmers, we installed four new tile treatment wetlands to enhance the quality of water flowing off farmland, removed hundreds of invasive trees and planted native tree windbreaks.

Early results show that biodiversity is increasing at these restored habitat sites, with more than 34 bird species and seven amphibian species moving in to newly restored wetland habitats from surrounding areas, and native plants thriving and growing rapidly throughout this past season.

This brings the total number of restoration projects completed in the park to 31 in just two years. Working in collaboration with the TRCA, farmers, municipalities, Indigenous partners, schools and volunteers, we have already restored more than 32 hectares of wetland and riparian habitat, 20 hectares of forest, and have planted more than 38,000 native plants in Rouge National Urban Park.

VISITOR EXPERIENCE HIGHLIGHTS

This past year was an exceptional second operational season for Parks Canada’s Visitor Experience team in Rouge National Urban Park. In addition to having two welcome areas open throughout this year’s summer season to serve our guests, Parks Canada collaborated with community and Indigenous partners to host more than 300 free in-park events throughout 2016. These events enabled thousands of Canadians, GTA residents and visitors to explore, connect with and celebrate the diversity of the Rouge’s unique natural, cultural and agricultural landscapes.

Highlights from this past season were a very rainy (yet well attended!) Winter Bird Count in January, our popular summer Learn to Camp events at Glen Rouge Campground, and our festive holiday-themed walks in December. Other notable events in 2016 included Hoot and Howl, Taste of the Trail, Frog Watch, Learn to Fish, Jane’s Walk, Moth Night and Butterfly Day, and the very first Art Day in the Rouge, just to name a few.

Parks Canada also partnered with Ontario Power Generation, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, Toronto Zoo and others to host this past year’s Fall Walk Festival in the Rouge. The event, which features fun and fascinating outings with our award-winning walk leaders, also included special guest educators from the Royal Ontario Museum, Bird Studies Canada and the City of Markham. Parks Canada was also delighted to once again work with the non-profit Parkbus service to provide a free shuttle from downtown Toronto for the Fall Walk Festival for hundreds of first-time visitors to Rouge National Urban Park.

PARKS DAY 2016: LIVE FROM THE ROUGE!

In the very early morning hours of July 15, 2016, Parks Canada welcomed CBC Radio Toronto’s Metro Morning show to Rouge National Urban Park. Metro Morning broadcast the day’s entire 3-hour radio show live from the park, sharing lots of great stories about conservation, Indigenous connections to the park, farming, volunteering, camping, mental health, photography and so much more.

The radio coverage also resulted in a TV spot about Canada’s first national urban park that aired on CBC Toronto’s 6 p.m. newscast that evening, as well as several web stories related to the park, including “A hidden gem in this new Torontonian’s backyard,” “Up your camp cuisine with this Chinese hot pot recipe,” “Ditch your map: UTSC students developing app for Rouge National Urban Park,” and “Digging up First Nations history in Rouge Park.”

PARKS CANADA IN THE COMMUNITY

This year was a busy one for Parks Canada’s participation in community events.

In 2016, the Agency collaborated with more than 30 partners from across the GTA on more than 50 events inside and outside the Rouge.

These community collaborations resulted in the delivery of exciting initiatives for Rouge National Urban Park visitors and area residents.

A few events from early 2016 include participating in the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority’s 60th anniversary celebrations, as well as having a presence at the City of Pickering’s Environmental Discovery Day, the Durham District School Board’s Sustainability Conference, and the Markham Environmental Advisory Committee’s Earth Month Celebrations.

As the season transitioned to warmer weather, Parks Canada opened its main office, located in the historic Cornell-Campbell House in Scarborough, for Doors Open Toronto and Bluffs Gates Open Home & Garden Tour. Then, as spring turned to summer, Parks Canada provided programming for the Markham Public Library’s Summer Reading Club, showed up with Parka in tow at the Kids’ CBC Days festival in downtown Toronto, and spent two weeks at the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition).

As summer gave way to fall, Parks Canada was on hand at the East Scarborough Storefront’s annual WaterWise event, and also participated in bus tours for City of Pickering residents. The Agency also had outreach displays at one of Canada’s oldest country fairs, the Markham Fair, as well as at the binational Great Lakes Public Forum in Toronto, which occurs once every three years.

Toward the end of the year, Parks Canada held the “Reclaiming the City” photography exhibition in downtown Toronto in collaboration with OCAD University, featuring the work of Heike Reuse, Rouge National Urban Park’s very first photographer-in-residence (her work is featured throughout this newsletter). Additionally, staff from Rouge National Urban Park also attended the Eco Fair at the Artscape Wychwood Barns, delivered a presentation to theRexdale Community Hub’s STEM Club, and braved the icy cold temperatures, along with Parka, to walk in the 2016 Toronto Santa Claus Parade.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! 2017 is set to be an even bigger year for Rouge National Urban Park in the community and we’re very excited that the year is now underway

2016 Mid-Year Update

Parks Canada connecting with GTA communities

From healthy walks and learning to camp in the park, to making connections in neighbourhoods surrounding the Rouge, Parks Canada has been very busy in recent months collaborating with its various community partners to develop and deliver some exciting initiatives for Rouge National Urban Park visitors and GTA residents.

Among these new initiatives, Parks Canada has partnered with the Rouge Valley Health System (RVHS) to present Mood Walks in the Scarborough area. The program, which launched in May and runs until this fall, consists of 10 guided walks led by Parks Canada staff and volunteers. The walks are targeted to youth aged 13 to 24 that are interested in improving their physical and mental health, as well as their social skills by getting outdoors, learning new things, and meeting fun and interesting people.

Mood Walks explore the walking trails around the RVHS grounds as well as in Rouge National Urban Park, where participants learn more about wildlife, forests, wetlands and farms. Going out for a walk to enjoy nature not only benefits program participants, but has been proven to help reduce stress and anxiety levels for everyone.

“The Mood Walks initiative is going very well and early feedback has been overwhelmingly positive,” says Sheryl Santos, Partnering and Engagement Officer. “In terms of getting participants outdoors and into the community, the program has definitely delivered on that front. We’ve even seen some program participants take it upon themselves to get out and independently visit the Rouge on their own time.”

Another exciting community initiative is Parks Canada’s collaboration with the East Scarborough Storefront, which serves residents from the Kingston-Galloway and Orton Park neighbourhoods in East Toronto.

Parks Canada staff have been providing tours of the Rouge for various Storefront groups, such as their Ecoclub, gardening group and the “Understanding your Environment Program” in partnership with the University of Toronto Scarborough. We are also proud to be a new organization participating in the Storefront’s annual WaterWise Event this fall, which is a festival to learn about and celebrate water.

In addition to these new initiatives, Parks Canada continues to work with long-time community partners,like the Markham Museum and Markham Library, on their summer camps and programs for youth. This summer, Parks Canada outreach staff participated in the museum’s Senior Superhero Science Camp in which participants learned more about science through their favourite comic book characters. The Parks Canada team also partnered with the library to deliver an environmental educational workshop for their Summer Reading Club at various library branches throughout York Region.

“Whether it’s bringing guests in for a tour of the park or getting out in the community to talk about and showcase the park,” adds Santos, “our goalis to help visitors connect with the incredible experiences the Rouge has to offer.”

A MESSAGE FROM PARKS CANADA

Greetings from Parks Canada and Rouge National Urban Park.

This year has already been filled with many exciting developments in the ongoing establishment of Canada’s first national urban park in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). We also continue to collaborate with our First Nations and community partners and stakeholders to provide opportunities for visitors to connect with the park through events, educational programming, stewardship, volunteerism and citizen engagement.

Parks Canada has made many new connections in the community, which have resulted in new and innovative programming for visitors to the national urban park. I’m also happy to report that as we expand our offerings in the Rouge, we are now staging our popular programs and events in more areas of the park, including our Reesor North and Zoo Road Welcome Areas, Bob Hunter Memorial Park, the Glen Rouge Campground, Rouge Beach and more.

As we look back on a very busy and exciting spring and summer, we are also looking ahead to this upcoming fall and the spectacular autumn colours that will be on full display in the Rouge. We’re extremely fortunate to have a national urban park in our backyards that is accessible all year round.

For the latest and most-up-to-date information on what’s happening in Canada’s first national urban park, I encourage you to visit out our website – parkscanada.ca/rouge – and check our social media channels.

There’s no better season than right now to get outdoors and enjoy the park. See you on the trails!

-Pamela L. Veinotte Field Unit Superintendent, Rouge National Urban Park

LATEST NEWS: Rouge National Urban Park

Here are some highlights from the first half of 2016:

  • On Feb. 9, 2016, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, announced Parks Canada was making a contribution of $150,000 to the Toronto Zoo to help re-establish a healthy, local population of Blanding’s turtles in Rouge National Urban Park.
  • On June 9, 2016, the Government of Canada tabled amendments to the Rouge National Urban Park Act that will protect the Rouge’s important ecosystems and heritage as well as ensure that the ecological integrity of the park is the first priority in the park’s management. The amendments also provide greater certainty for park farmers. Farmers can continue carrying out agricultural activities within the park and provide an important source of locally-grown food to the Greater Toronto Area.
  • On June 18, 2016, the Ontario Government reaffirmed its commitment to transfer approx. 6.5 km2 (1,600 acres) of land to Parks Canada as well as relinquish reversionary rights to approx. 15 km2 (3,700 acres) of additional lands managed by the Toronto & Region Conservation Authority.
  • On June 21, 2016, Parks Canada and the Toronto Zoo partnered, for the third year in a row, to release 36 more baby Blanding’s turtles – a nationally and provincially-threatened species – in the Rouge. To date, 67 baby Blanding’s turtles have been released in Rouge National Urban Park. More releases are to come. Caption: The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada

Parks Canada’s welcome areas – Your doorway to the Rouge!

This is the first full summer season for the national urban park’s first two welcome areas, which are located at the corner of Reesor and Elgin Mills Roads in Markham, and on Zoo Road (also known as Park Road) near the Toronto Zoo. And as Parks Canada staff start to become “familiar faces” in the community, the welcome areas are drawing in a wide variety of park visitors.

Whether visitors are stopping by for directions, up-to-date info or even first aid assistance, Parks Canada staff are available at these locations to help out. Welcome area staff can also assist with planning your day in the park or providing more information about other Parks Canada places across the country.

The two Rouge welcome areas also feature picnic areas, washrooms, interpretive displays, books and take-away activities, such as scavenger hunts and Xplorer! booklets for kids, just to name a few. Also new this year, the Zoo Road Welcome Area location now sells official Parks Canada merchandise!

As for upcoming events, there’s always something special going on at the Zoo Road Welcome Area on holiday long weekends, including free airbrush Parks Canada temporary tattoos. Be sure to stop by over Thanksgiving weekend (Oct. 8-10) when the popular Fall Walk Series will be happening in the Rouge and the incredible fall colours will be on full display.

After Labour Day weekend both welcome areas will switch from a seven-day to a five-day schedule and will be open from Wednesday to Sunday 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. until they close for the season after Thanksgiving.

 

Toronto school wins Canada’s Coolest School Trip contest

In April 2016, a split Grade 7/8 class from Toronto's Duke of Connaught Junior and Senior Public School beat out some tough competition from across the country to win the Canada's Coolest School Trip contest with a video entry that highlighted the natural and cultural significance of Rouge National Urban Park.

Check out their video

For their video, the class won a five-day trip to Jasper National Park this past June. For many of the students it was their first time visiting the Canadian Rockies.

The trip included white water rafting on the Athabasca River, a visit to the Columbia Icefield aboard the giant Ice Explorer and a stop at the historic Palisades Centre, to name a few of their educational and fun activities. A big congratulations to all of the students and staff at Duke of Connaught School for a job well done!

2015 Year in Review

A MESSAGE FROM PARKS CANADA

Season’s greetings and Happy New Year from Rouge National Urban Park.

As we look back, there have been many milestones since 2011, when the Government of Canada announced plans to create Canada’s first national urban park in the Greater Toronto Area.

In 2015, Parks Canada was proud to achieve several significant achievements in the creation of Rouge National Urban Park – including the very first land transfer for the park on April 1, and the formal establishment of the park on May 15.

Since 2011, Parks Canada has worked closely with countless individuals, community organizations, conservation groups, other levels of government, the park’s farming community, volunteers and First Nations to realize the dream of creating Canada’s first national urban park in the most heavily populated and culturally diverse area of our country.

All told, Parks Canada has now engaged more than 20,000 Canadians in the planning for Rouge National Urban Park, making this one of the largest public engagement programs in Parks Canada’s 104-year history.

The effort to create Rouge National Urban Park is something of which we should all be extremely proud. It takes a community to create a national urban park and the spirit, collaboration and partnerships that have brought us to where we are today will, without question, continue to carry us into the future.

Here’s to a Happy 2016 and many more milestones for Rouge National Urban Park!

-Pamela L. Veinotte Field Unit Superintendent Rouge National Urban Park

 

2015 CONSERVATION SUCCESS STORIES

Action on the ground: conservation work underway in Rouge National Urban Park

This past year was a busy one for Parks Canada’s resource conservation team in Rouge National Urban Park. Thanks to a $15-million investment by the Government of Canada in support of conservation initiatives in the park, early efforts in 2015 included the initiation of 15 conservation and restoration projects.

In collaboration with the park’s farming community, First Nations, and community and conservation groups, Parks Canada worked with its partners to enhance aquatic habitat along four tributaries of Little Rouge Creek and to restore wetlands in areas where they had historically existed. “All of these sites and projects were identified in partnership with park farmers and tenants,” says Maria Papoulias, project manager, Parks Canada. “It was extremely rewarding to be able to collaborate with Toronto and Region Conservation authority, tenants and others in the community to select and implement these projects. This is important conservation work that will benefit the Rouge’s natural, cultural and agricultural resources.”

Throughout the summer of 2015, Parks Canada created four new wetland areas in the northern Markham portion of Rouge National Urban Park. Three culverts under farm-access crossings were also replaced on a stream east of Ninth Line, and a grassed waterway was constructed to prevent further soil loss off farmland and erosion into a nearby waterway.

In 2015, seven areas were also renaturalized by planting native trees and shrubs. This work began in early spring when approximately 90 local student volunteers helped to plant the banks of a new stream in the park with 600 native shrubs. Additionally, in the fall, Parks Canada staff and volunteers also helped to plant the areas surrounding the four newly created wetlands, a pre-existing headwater wetland, a retired hayfield and the banks of the new stream.

However, the highlight of this fall planting work was the involvement of local school groups. Areas around two of the new wetlands, as well as the nearby retired hayfield, were planted by school groups in late-October and early-November. More than 400 students took part in this hands-on restoration opportunity, helping to plant nearly 3,000 native trees and shrubs in the park.

Parks Canada’s planned restoration work in Rouge National Urban Park is expected to more than double the area of wetlands and stream-side habitat and provide long-term benefits to the health of ecosystems and agricultural lands in Canada’s first national urban park.

 

On the move again: another cohort of baby turtles moves into the Rouge

June 23, 2015, was moving day in the Rouge.

That’s when Parks Canada, in partnership with the Toronto Zoo and Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), reintroduced 21 baby Blanding’s turtles to a pond in the park. This was the second year that a group of this provincially and nationally threatened turtle species have been released in the park. In June 2014, the same group of partners collaborated on the release of 10 baby Blanding’s turtles in the Rouge.

The long-living species, with a life span of up to 100 years, has inhabited the Rouge Valley for thousands of years, though as few as six Blanding’s turtles remained prior to the 2014 release.

Dr. Andrew Lentini, curator of amphibians and reptiles at the Toronto Zoo, notes “this long-term reintroduction project is the first of its kind in the Greater Toronto Area and marks a significant step in 15 years of turtle monitoring and research.” The 2015 group of baby turtles were hatched from eggs collected two years ago from a stable source population in southern Ontario that were raised in a controlled environment at the Toronto Zoo.

“Parks Canada and our partners believe that this type of head starting and reintroduction of the turtles, along with ongoing habitat restoration and ongoing monitoring, are keys to the animal’s survival in the Rouge,” says Pam Veinotte, Superintendent of Rouge National Urban Park. This year’s turtle reintroduction also included a new partner – the University of Toronto Scarborough – who will be assisting with long-term monitoring of the released turtles.

The Toronto Zoo and TRCA began collecting information and monitoring Blanding’s turtles in the Rouge Valley in 2000. Environment Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry provided funding, permits and in-kind support for Blanding’s turtle monitoring in the Rouge in previous years. The facility where the turtles were hatched and raised at the Toronto Zoo was funded by Earth Rangers.

Archaeology work in the Rouge

This summer was a busy first season for Parks Canada’s archaeological team in Rouge National Urban Park.

Parks Canada staff, as well as First Nations archaeology monitors and technicians from the national urban park’s First Nations Advisory Circle, conducted several archaeological assessments in support of ecological restoration and infrastructure projects underway in the park.

Laying down roots with schools in the community

Fall 2015 included yet another first for Rouge National Urban Park.

In August, Parks Canada initiated its first volunteer restoration planting opportunities in the park with schools in Toronto, York and Durham. The response to this community engagement and stewardship initiative was overwhelming.

“I was blown away by the amount of interest we got from school groups,” says Maria Papoulias, project manager, Parks Canada. “It was just way more than I ever anticipated.”

From Oct. 19 to Nov. 6, 2015, more than 400 students from 10 Greater Toronto Area schools helped to plant 3,000 native trees and shrubs at two new wetland restoration sites and a retired hayfield in an area of the park near Ninth Line and 19th Avenue. Participating grade school, high school and adult students were also encouraged to incorporate their on-site planting experiences into their various classrooms, which included business, French, math, media and science classes.

“It was such a gift to have these 400-plus students out planting trees in the field and getting an immersive experience in nature,” adds Papoulias. “When I was in school, I would have loved to do more things like that. So that was absolutely fantastic to see.”

Students and teachers were provided with an overview of Parks Canada and Canada’s first national urban park. They were also taught how to identify different tree and shrub species. Through their hands-on participation in this restoration work, students also learned about historical landscape changes in the Rouge and the interplay between natural, cultural and agricultural environments in an urban setting.

Trees and shrubs planted included: nannyberry, red osier dogwood, chokeberry, chokecherry, staghorn sumac, red elderberry, silver maple, eastern cottonwood, hackberry, white cedar, white spruce, white pine and tamarack.

Parks Canada considers it a privilege and an honour to introduce Canadians of all ages to our country’s amazing natural, cultural and agricultural heritage in a “classroom without walls” with hands-on outdoor activities. What a fantastic setting for such an experience in Canada’s premiere “Learn To” park!

 

2015 VISITOR EXPERIENCE HIGHLIGHTS

Winter Bird Count

On Jan. 11, 2015, Parks Canada and the Toronto Zoo partnered on the 12th Winter Bird Count in the Rouge.

The annual one-day event celebrates and raises awareness of the biodiversity of birds present in the Rouge. In 2015, more than 180 event participants trekked through park forests, meadows and wetlands in sub-zero temperatures to count every bird seen and heard. This provides a snapshot of resident birds that brave the Canadian cold and winter in the Rouge.

The 2015 Winter Bird Count in the Rouge recorded 10,400 birds from 57 different species! In addition to usual suspects like Blue Jays, Northern Cardinals and Black-capped Chickadees, highlights from the 2015 count included two Great Horned Owl sightings as well as a flock of 45 Snow Buntings.

Hoot & Howl

Parks Canada was pleased to host the annual Rouge Hoot & Howl on Feb. 28, 2015, at the Rouge Valley Mennonite Church located in the Hamlet of Cedar Grove.

This long-running event aims to introduce park visitors to native owl and coyote species found in the Rouge. More than 80 participants took part in an indoor presentation and then braved the -7oC temperatures for an outdoor hike to call out to the animals to see if they would call back.

The 2015 edition of Hoot & Howl didn’t, unfortunately, yield any owl or coyote call backs, but a fantastic night of learning and adventure was had by all who attended.

Frog Watch

For frog enthusiasts in the Rouge, the arrival of spring can only mean one thing – ribbit, ribbit – Frog Watch!

Close to 100 participants took part in the 2015 Frog Watch monitoring program, which included an initial information and training workshop, as well as three evening outings in the park – one day at the end of the months of April, May and June – to collect information about frogs in the Rouge.

This was the 7th annual Frog Watch in the Rouge and Parks Canada was proud to continue the legacy of this popular outreach program, in partnership with the Toronto Zoo.

“Frogs are a great indicator species of ecosystem health and there are many nested wetlands throughout the park,” says Sheryl Santos of Parks Canada, who helped create the annual event in 2008. “By monitoring frogs, it gives us an indication of the health of the park’s wetlands.”

The unique educational event involves visiting wetlands throughout the park and listening for frog calls, documenting the different kinds of frog species present. Data collected is submitted to Ontario’s Natural Heritage Information Centre, which is then used by various agencies and researchers to plan, protect and study Ontario’s natural heritage.

Parks Canada opens first welcome areas in the Rouge

On July 28, 2015, the first seasonal welcome area in Rouge National Urban Park was opened.

Located near the intersection of Elgin Mills and Reesor roads in the Markham portion of the park, the welcome area consists initially of a Parks Canada oTENTik – a type of accommodation that is a cross between a tent and a rustic cabin.

Additionally, a second staffed oTENTik operated near the Toronto Zoo. Located next to the Rouge Valley Conservation Centre and at the trailhead for some of the park’s most popular trails, this welcome area is an excellent base for visitors to begin a hiking adventure. The oTENTik sits beside a second model which is fully furnished for visitors to check out and see what an overnight experience looks like at Parks Canada sites across the country.

Although they were open for just a few months in 2015 as a pilot, the welcome areas warmly welcomed almost 3,000 visitors to the park, including many regular and first-time visitors.

The welcome areas will host special events and activities, and provide a seasonal base for staff to help visitors plan their trip within the Rouge and to other Parks Canada sites across the country. The new welcome areas are the first of many enhanced visitor and educational facilities planned for Rouge National Urban Park over the next several years.

 

Moth Night

Beautiful or buggy? Graceful or get away!? Moths are a misunderstood creature in the winged world, but thanks to a new event in the Rouge, that’s, hopefully, about to change.

On Aug. 28, 2015, Parks Canada welcomed visitors to Glen Rouge Campground at dusk for an evening adventure that explored the myths and magic of the Rouge’s moths. With the help of guest experts from the Toronto Entomologists’ Association, large sheets and special lights were used to attract area moths for participants to observe up close.

The event, which included kids activities and educational displays featuring different types of moth species, helped participants to better understand how moths are beneficial to our ecosystems.

 

Learn-to Camp

Never been camping? Not sure where to start? These are common questions for the first-time camper. But don’t worry, Parks Canada has you covered.

More than 150 campers of all ages experienced the joys of camping in the Rouge this summer by participating in Parks Canada’s Learn-to Camp program at Glen Rouge Campground in Toronto.

“The goal of Learn-to Camp is to help first-time campers build the necessary skills and confidence to plan and enjoy their own camping trip,” says Steve Burroughs, Parks Canada’s acting visitor experience manager for Rouge National Urban Park. “Most of this year’s participants were primarily families with young children who were new to the outdoors, so we were extremely pleased with the turnout.”

The initiative, which is co-presented with the assistance of Mountain Equipment Co-op, was offered twice in 2015, once over the June 20/21 weekend, and again on Sept. 12/13. Camping gear is provided and participants learn practical camping skills like how to set up a tent, prepare camp meals and light a campfire, as well as important safety tips on wildlife, staying safe in the wild and dealing with ticks.

Participants were also exposed to the great outdoors through hiking, photography, bird watching and campfire songs. And what authentic Canadian camping experience would be complete without some freshly-made s’mores around the campfire? That was covered as well.

 

Taste of the Trail

Parks Canada’s inaugural Taste of the Trail event on Aug. 22, 2015, in the Rouge was an overwhelming success.

“The day was packed with a ton of belly-filling activities,” says Diana Smyth, Parks Canada’s interpretation coordinator for Rouge National Urban Park. “Happy visitors went away with a new appreciation for food found in the park, as well as one aspect of the park’s cultural heritage."

Taste of the Trail took place near the Hamlet of Cedar Grove in the Markham portion of the Rouge and combined guided walks and breathtaking scenery with food sampling and educational stations.

While tasting local bread and honey, and corn on the cob from Sweet Ridge Farms, guests learned about pollinators and how food is grown. They also made their own trail mix and nibbled on smoked salmon while learning about the Atlantic Salmon Recovery Program from the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters.

 

A Record-Breaking Fall Walk Series

This year’s 2015 Fall Walk Series in the Rouge, hosted by Parks Canada in collaboration with Ontario Power Generation Biodiversity and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, was a huge success!

With the help of the Parkbus service, Parks Canada was able to help remove barriers to park access by providing free shuttle service from downtown Toronto to the park for nearly 250 visitors, many of whom were visiting the park for the very first time. In total, more than 1,500 visitors passed through Parks Canada’s new Zoo Road Welcome Area over the course of the event’s back-to-back weekends in October.

Both locals and newcomers alike enjoyed walks led by experts from Parks Canada, the Royal Ontario Museum, Ontario Nature, the Toronto Zoo, and local naturalists groups. Guest presenters did a wonderful job celebrating the Rouge’s incredible biodiversity in a way that promoted healthy and active living. Kids and adults were treated to fun and engaging talks about leeches, worms, turtles, salamanders, snakes, songbirds, hawks, jays, plants, trees and fungi.

The success of the Fall Walk Series would not have been possible without the help and support of our amazing Parks Canada volunteer walk leaders, who led or assisted with leading dozens of walks. Their passion and enthusiasm for the park is inspirational. A very special thank you to co-presenters Ontario Power Generation and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, whose generous support and collaborative spirit made it possible for hundreds of Canadians to get outside and experience one of Canada’s most unique protected areas.

 

Hallow-Wild in the Rouge

This past Halloween, Parks Canada staff donned their scariest attire to welcome guests to its two new welcome areas and the walking trails of the Rouge.

Hallow-wild in the park – our take on Halloween – included themed activities, a visit from Parka and Parks Canada temporary tattoos, as well as guided walks that aimed to expose visitors to some of the misunderstood nocturnal residents that call the Rouge home. Whether it was busting myths about bats, breaking down the fear factor around coyotes or discovering the night-time world of owls, there was something for everyone looking to learn more about these animals that live in the shadows of the park.

 

PARKS CANADA IN THE COMMUNITY 2015

Bluffs Gates Open

Parks Canada was pleased to host the kick-off for the third annual Bluffs Gates Open tour of historic and beautiful Scarborough homes and gardens, with proceeds going to the Rouge Valley Health System Foundation in support of local hospitals.

This year, Pam Veinotte, Parks Canada’s Superintendent of Rouge National Urban Park, welcomed His Worship John Tory, Mayor of Toronto, along with local Toronto councillors Paul Ainslie and Gary Crawford, and members of the Rouge Valley Health System to the event at Rouge National Urban Park’s head office on Kingston Road, the historic Cornell-Campbell House.

 

Partners in Protection

Every few months, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) invites one of its partners to the museum to share educational information with their visitors. Parks Canada was fortunate to spend the Halloween weekend at the ROM where we ran several fun activities for kids of all ages.

More than 600 visitors stopped by Parks Canada’s booth throughout the fun-filled weekend, which alsoincluded Halloween-themed face painting, a campfire scene where people could share ghost stories and a touch-and-listen slideshow to hear what coyote and different owl species sound like.

 

Doors Open Toronto

In May 2015, Parks Canada was pleased to open our main Rouge National Urban Park office to the public for the 16th annual Doors Open Toronto.

The annual event provides residents free and rare access to more than 155 architecturally, historically, culturally and socially significant buildings across the City of Toronto. Our office, the Cornell-Campbell House is an historic family home in Scarborough that was first constructed in 1836.

 

Pickering’s Seedy Saturday

Parks Canada volunteers and staff were pleased to take part in Pickering’s annual Seedy Saturday event to promote and share information about the Rouge’s amazing natural, cultural and agricultural heritage.

 

Better City Bootcamp

In April 2015, Parks Canada was invited to take part in Civic Action’s “Better City Bootcamp,” an event held every four years with nearly 1,000 community leaders and organizations from the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) that examines several regional issues in a collaborative environment.

The event looked at five foundational issues that relate to health and resilience of GTHA people and communities – infrastructure, public space, mental health, affordable housing and childhood health.

Parks Canada appreciated the opportunity to share ideas and network with other groups, organizations and individuals working in areas such as access to public spaces and improving health outcomes.

 

Malvern Family Resource Centre Eco-Camp 2015

Parks Canada was honoured to work with the Malvern Family Resource Centre at their 2015 EcoCamp. This year’s themes were “Nature Explorers” and “Be Green” and the event provided campers with the opportunity take part in guided nature hikes in the Rouge, paint bird boxes, plant native plants and upcycle materials for alternative uses such as lava lamps, piggy banks and bubble blowers.

 

Guild Alive with Culture Festival

Parks Canada had the wonderful opportunity in 2015 to once again participate in the annual Guild Alive with Culture Festival to share information and beautiful images of the Rouge.

 

2015 Ontario BioBlitz

A BioBlitz brings together biology experts, citizen scientists and the general public to inventory all species – plants, animals, fungi and more – in a particular area over a 24-hour period. As a former two-time co-host of the Ontario BioBlitz (both in 2012 and 2013), Parks Canada was pleased to attend the launch of the 2015 Ontario BioBlitz at the Ontario Science Centre.

The 2015 BioBlitz was held in our neighbouring valley to the east, the beautiful Don River Watershed. Rouge National Urban Park’s Superintendent, Pam Veinotte, was thrilled to provide welcoming remarks at the event.

Kudos to the Ontario BioBlitz steering committee for organizing another amazing event. Several Parks Canada staff and volunteers participated in the 2015 BioBlitz as either observation leaders or participants. We look forward to the 2016 Ontario BioBlitz in the Credit Valley, and we are quite excited to once again act as host of the event in 2017, just in time for Canada’s 150th anniversary!

 

Ontario Tourism Summit

Parks Canada had a major presence at the 2015 Ontario Tourism Summit held in Toronto in November.

Fun fact: did you know that visitor spending at Parks Canada’s Ontario sites, combined with investments made by Parks Canada, contribute more than $250 million per year to Ontario’s Gross Domestic Product?

 

Markham Museum Winter Fest

Parks Canada had an awesome time at Markham’s Winter Fest held at the Markham Museum. A special thank you to Lorne Smith of the Markham Historical Society who generously shared his maple syrup taffy with our appreciative staff and volunteers.

 

Port Union Waterfront Festival

Our staff and mascot, Parka the Beaver, had a wonderful day interacting with families and local residents at the 2015 Port Union Waterfront Festival.

 

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup

Parks Canada once again played a major role supporting the Rouge’s annual shoreline cleanup, organized by Aasiya Hussain of Ecohesian Inc. A big thank you to the many volunteers who helped collect dozens of buckets of waste and pollution from Rouge Beach. Let’s keep doing everything we can to make the Rouge even more beautiful!

 

Rouge volunteers welcomed to Parks Canada

In May 2015, Parks Canada history was made when 60 core volunteers from Rouge Park in the Greater Toronto Area transitioned over to officially become Parks Canada volunteers for Rouge National Urban Park.

Billed as a “New Rouge” celebration, an open house was held at the national urban park’s main office at Cornell-Campbell House in Toronto. The evening was a casual social mixer for volunteers to drop in, officially sign up and pick up their new Rouge National Urban Park apparel – shirts, hats and toques!

Speaking to a group of new Parks Canada volunteers at the event, Pam Veinotte, Field Unit Superintendent for Rouge National Urban Park, noted “We’re sad to say goodbye to the old pieces of volunteer clothing, but we’re excited to see everyone joining our Parks Canada family of volunteers.”

The event was the last step in their journey to the Parks Canada family of volunteers, a journey that included training about Rouge National Urban Park and Parks Canada’s iconic family of protected areas: national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas. Volunteers also learned about Parks Canada’s leadership in protection, education and visitor experience.

The volunteers support year-round programming in the Rouge, including guided walks and community outreach, just to name a few. These initiatives and others will provide hundreds of additional volunteer opportunities for individuals and groups looking to pitch in and help out in Canada’s first national urban park.

Mitra Maharaj, an area resident who’s been a volunteer in the Rouge for two years, said he was happy when he first heard that the Rouge would be transitioning to a national urban park. “I see it as a very positive thing, not only for Toronto, but also the neighbouring communities,” said Maharaj. “Another big and significant change, especially if you are a hiker, is the addition of the federal lands, which I think is quite significant.”

When asked about the volunteer transition process, Aasiya Hussain, an environmental educator and Rouge volunteer, noted “It’s a culmination of many years of effort and a lot of love that has been put into the Rouge over 30 years of cherishing this very beautiful and beloved place. It’s an area with over 10,000 years of human history and to see it protected for generations to come, I think it’s a very beautiful thing.”

In the coming years, Parks Canada will provide numerous additional volunteer opportunities for new and interested participants in the Greater Toronto Area. Whether it is participating in the Frog Watch or Winter Bird Count programs, removing invasive species, or helping out as a walk leader or at a community outreach event, Rouge National Urban Park will provide unique experiences for every type of volunteer.

Volunteer appreciation: wrapping up the season in style On Nov. 28, 2015, we were thrilled to pay homage to our amazing Parks Canada Rouge National Urban Park volunteers. We can’t say it enough: our volunteers are truly amazing and inspire us every day. Thank you for everything you do to help promote and protect the natural, cultural and agricultural heritage of the Rouge. We are ever grateful and appreciative for all the time and knowledge you give back to the park and your communities.

 

Parks Canada summer students recap

This past summer was filled with unforgettable moments and experiences for Parks Canada’s summer students. They left behind an amazing legacy through their contributions and hard work, which aided Parks Canada’s efforts to help establish and operate Rouge National Urban Park.

In 2015, Parks Canada quadrupled the number of summer students hired in previous years by bringing on a team of 12 students. They were placed in different functions with various roles ranging from surveying visitors throughout the park and at trailheads; monitoring ecosystems and helping to lead ecological restoration projects; facilitating events and educational programming in the park; and interpreting the park’s natural, cultural, and agricultural heritage.

This year’s group of students came from a wide range of post-secondary schools, including the University of Toronto (both Scarborough and St. George campuses), University of Guelph, Harvard University and Lund University in Sweden. Many of the students grew up in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), and others learned about the Rouge area for the very first time, coming from places such as Montreal and Ottawa.

More than half of the students are in a master’s program, while the rest of the students were in undergraduate programs. Their programs of study included topics as diverse as environmental science, planning, ecology, mental health studies, human biology, history, and English.

“This past summer has been the most amazing experience and opportunity for me to grow as an individual and to develop skills for the future,” said Jeffrey Law, one of Parks Canada’s 2015 summer students. “I love the fact that I was able to work both indoors and outdoors throughout the summer and I am really fortunate that my master’s program at the University of Toronto Scarborough has an internship component. Otherwise, I probably would not have been able to join such a fantastic team!”

 

STAY CONNECTED

Another milestone for Canada’s first national urban park!

On July 11, 2015, the Government of Canada announced it was committing 21 km2 of new lands to Rouge National Urban Park, increasing Canada’s first national urban park by more than 36 per cent.

The new lands, which include forests, meadows, streams, important archaeological sites and large tracts of farmland, are located in Pickering and Uxbridge. Once transferred, these lands will be under Parks Canada management.

Once fully established, Rouge National Urban Park will be the largest and best protected urban park of its kind in the world.

At 79.1 km2, it will be 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!

2012-2014 Updates

Summer 2014

A MESSAGE FROM PARKS CANADA

Greetings to our valued stakeholders, landholders and First Nations.

My team and I are proud to be a part of the initiative to establish Rouge National Urban Park. Our newsletter is back and is now titled the ‘Rouge Review’. In this edition, we are very pleased to share a progress update on the release of the national urban park’s first draft management plan and on several of our activities and programs.

As part of management planning, we have been busy:

  • reviewing current plans and inventories for the Rouge
  • developing a historical sketch and a cultural landscape plan
  • mapping the park’s natural, cultural and agricultural resources, along with visitor facilities, trails etc.
  • conducting research on park visitors to determine current numbers, demographics and park use
  • meeting landholders, stakeholders, community groups, and First Nations to listen, gather information and discuss future opportunities
  • and participating in a wide range of community events throughout the GTA.

In parallel to park planning, work on the land assembly agreement with our municipal partners and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (“TRCA”) is nearing completion. Surveying, title searching and other due diligence activities related to land transfers are well underway on lands already committed to the future national urban park.

As the establishment process progresses, the current Rouge Park continues to be managed by the TRCA, assisted by the municipalities. The TRCA keeps Parks Canada informed of operational activities and opportunities, regularly seeking input to ensure that decisions are made in the best interests of the future park.

I am also pleased to report that in June, the Government of Canada tabled legislation in the House of Commons to formally establish Rouge National Urban Park. The Rouge National Urban Park Act began second reading before the House rose for the summer. Second reading will continue and the Bill will be sent to committee for review this fall.

Over the coming weeks and months, I encourage you to be a part of the ongoing history of the Rouge by providing feedback on our draft management plan – either at a community event, open house or through our online survey located at www.parkscanada.gc.ca/rouge.

I am extremely pleased with the progress we have made in collaboration with our stakeholders, community groups, First Nations and the public at large towards the creation of Canada’s first national urban park.

Thank you for your continued support and input.

- Pam Veinotte, Field Unit Superintendent, Rouge National Urban Park

 

ROUGE NATIONAL URBAN PARK DRAFT MANAGEMENT PLAN RELEASED FOR PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT

We are pleased to announce that Rouge National Urban Park’s draft management plan has now been released for public viewing and feedback. To read the plan, please visit www.pc.gc.ca/rouge.

Your feedback is very important! There are many ways to let us know what you think about the plan, including completing an online survey (also at www.parkscanada.gc.ca/rouge) or by attending one of our upcoming open houses (see dates below).

Like most areas managed by Park Canada, Rouge National Urban Park is required to have a management plan, a guiding document that articulates the park’s long-term vision, strategies, objectives activities and targets.

The plan builds on a continuing and extensive program of stakeholder and public meetings, a Youth workshop, First Nations engagement, and the development of the Park Concept in 2012. Input received from nearly 10,000 Canadians and over 100 stakeholder groups was used in the development of the draft plan. In addition, the draft plan has benefitted from the input of municipal and provincial governments and other government agencies. It also acknowledges the almost three decades of citizen engagement in the Rouge Park, the legacy of past plans for various sections of the park, and current plans of the conservation authority, municipalities, and the province.

A formal public engagement process on Rouge National Urban Park’s draft management plan is being undertaken in the months of July, August and September, with public open house meetings planned for the following dates and locations:

September 9 in Markham
Markham Museum
9350 Markham Road Markham, ON L3P 3J3
7 pm to 9 pm

September 10 in Scarborough
Royal Canadian Legion Branch 2
45 Lawson Road Scarborough, ON M1C 2J1
7 pm to 9 pm

September 16 in Pickering
Pickering Recreation Complex, O’Brien Room
1867 Valley Farm Road Pickering, ON L1V 6K7
7 pm to 9 pm

September 18 in downtown Toronto
58 Art Gallery of Ontario, Jackman Hall
317 Dundas Street West Toronto, ON M5T 1G4
7 pm to 9 pm

If you wish to be notified of Rouge National Urban Park news and events, please send an email to rouge@pc.gc.ca. We look forward to hearing from or seeing you soon!

PARKS CANADA IN THE COMMUNITY

Parks Canada has been establishing our presence in the Greater Toronto Area and getting to know our neighbours at various community events. Here are a few images and captions from events we’ve attended the past few months. In addition to the events below, we’ve also been active at events and festivals throughout the GTA such as Rouge Days, the Guild Alive with Culture, the Redpath Waterfront Festival, the Port Union Waterfront Festival, Doors Open Toronto, Tedx Rouge River, and many more. We will also be present at several more community events throughout the summer and into the fall where we will be seeking feedback on our draft management plan for the future Rouge National Urban Park. Please stop by and say hello – we look forward to chatting with you soon!

Global Summit on the Physical Activity of Children

Toronto recently hosted the first ever international conference aimed at addressing the “physical inactivity crisis” among children. Parks Canada met with and led educational walks with conference delegates from all over the world, outlining how our work in the future Rouge National Urban Park aims to address the very same issues.

Teacher Day and Earth Day Celebrations at the Toronto Zoo

Parks Canada staff spent the weekend of April 26 and 27 at the Toronto Zoo with other community groups partaking in Earth Day and Teacher Day celebrations. Over 18,200 teachers, families and zoo members visited the zoo that weekend, with many of them taking part in Parks Canada’s games and activities for kids and families while learning about the future Rouge National Urban Park and other Parks Canada protected areas from coast to coast to coast.

Earth Day Festivities at the Market Village Mall in Markham

Parks Canada was very pleased to take part in the City of Markham’s and the Markham Environmental Advisory Committee’s annual Earth Day event at the Market Village Mall. Parks Canada staff joined together with several other community groups to share information about local initiatives and to raise awareness about the future Rouge National Urban Park.

The University of Toronto Scarborough Campus’ 2014 Eco-Summit

We were thrilled to be a part of the 3rd annual summit which aimed to link research, teaching, and institutional practice to community initiatives that foster partnerships with government and community members in the Eastern Greater Toronto Area. The two day event featured panel discussions with faculty and community leaders, an eco fair, and networking opportunities for all. This year, several Parks Canada staff took part in the event, including Carol Sheedy, Parks Canada’s Vice President of Operations in Eastern Canada, who delivered the summit’s keynote address on the opening night.

An Afternoon at the Cedar Grove Community Centre

This past February, parks, recreation and tourism officials from across Canada gathered in Toronto to discuss ways they could work together to creatively and collaboratively inspire Canadians to experience nature through parks in ways that support their health and well-being. Members of this conference toured part of the future Rouge National Urban Park, culminating with a stop at the historic Cedar Grove Community Centre for some home-baked and incredibly delicious pie, maple syrup, apple cider and historical anecdotes.

 

RIVERS IN THE PARK: PETTICOAT CREEK

Submitted by Maryam Nassar, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority

Did you know that, despite being named for the Rouge River, the future Rouge National Urban Park is actually home to three major watercourses? Areas of land which drain into Duffins Creek and Petticoat Creek are also in the park.

Petticoat Creek, a small creek with an unusual name, is unlike most creeks and rivers in the Greater Toronto Area (“GTA”) in that it begins south of the Oak Ridges Moraine and is fed mostly by surface water. The area of land drained by a creek or a river is called a watershed, and roughly 25,000 people call this watershed home.

A watershed plan was recently completed for Petticoat Creek by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (“TRCA”), a government organisation responsible for managing nine watersheds in the central GTA, including Petticoat Creek. The plan established baseline data on the physical characteristics of the stream and its ecosystems and will guide decisions on the management of natural features and functions. Findings from the plan include:

  • While this small watershed is generally healthy, the impacts of urbanisation on the stream’s hydrology and ecology, the age and form of urban development, type of farming practised in the rural reaches, and extent of bisecting infrastructure such as roads and hydro lines, mean that Petticoat Creek struggles to stay healthy and function as nature intended.
  • Inclusion in the park and its new national urban park status will protect the rural reaches of the stream and surrounding ecosystems. The provincial Greenbelt, Duffins Rouge Agricultural Preserve and conservation easements on private property, also protect the rural landscape.
  • Reforestation is complete on almost 50% of the 77 hectares of the watershed in the park designated for ecological restoration in 1994. This is the most restoration work completed in the watershed.

Recommendations for next steps focus on:

  • Continue monitoring programs to increase the database of physical characteristics of the watershed as part of TRCA’s area-wide natural heritage system and ecological restoration planning.
  • Improving storm water management to improve water quality. Most of the problematic storm water management infrastructure in the watershed is not yet due for replacement, so water quality conditions will not improve in the short term.

You can visit Petticoat Creek in the future national urban park, and nearby at TRCA’s Altona Forest and Petticoat Creek Conservation Area. For maps to visitor areas, or to view the plan, please visit: http://trca.on.ca/the-living-city/watersheds/petticoat/

 

BABY TURTLES RELEASED IN THE FUTURE ROUGE NATIONAL URBAN PARK

The Toronto Zoo, Parks Canada, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, and Earth Rangers are working together to help recover a threatened species

On Monday, June 30, the Toronto Zoo, Parks Canada, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) and Earth Rangers, reintroduced 10 baby Blanding’s turtles – a provincially and nationally threatened species – to a pond in the future Rouge National Urban Park.

The long-lived species, with a lifespan of up to 80 years, has inhabited the Rouge Valley since time immemorial, though its future remains uncertain. Until recently six Blanding’s turtles were thought to still inhabit the park’s wetlands.

This was the first reintroduction of its kind in the Greater Toronto Area and marks a signifi cant step in 15 years of turtle monitoring and research in the Rouge Valley.

“Blanding’s turtles are amazing creatures and in some ways are a poster child for endangered species – by helping them, we also help countless other wetland animals and plants, so this is a good news story,” said Bob Johnson, Curator of Amphibians and Reptiles at the Toronto Zoo.

The turtle eggs were collected from a stable source population in southern Ontario in 2012 and have been raised in captivity at the Toronto Zoo over the last two years. Parks Canada, the TRCA and the Toronto Zoo believe that captive rearing and reintroduction of the turtles, along with long-term monitoring and ongoing habitat restoration, are keys to the animal’s survival in the future Rouge National Urban Park.

“Healthy turtles mean healthy wetlands and Blanding’s turtles can be indicators of good wetland health in what will become Rouge National Urban Park,” said Pam Veinotte, Parks Canada’s Superintendent of Rouge National Urban Park.” “It’s exciting to collaborate with our partners and to create a healthy and vibrant Rouge National Urban Park now and for future generations.”

The public can help protect the turtles by avoiding their nesting areas and by contacting authorities if they observe harmful behaviour toward turtles or their habitat. The location of the pond housing the reintroduced turtles will not be disclosed at this time to help minimize disturbances and give the animals the best chance of surviving.

The Toronto Zoo and Rouge Park began collecting information on and monitoring Blanding’s turtles in the park in 2000. With the area slated to become Canada’s first national urban park, Parks Canada has come on board and will continue to work on a long-term turtle monitoring program. Earth Rangers provided support for the project by building a facility to house the turtle eggs and babies at the Toronto Zoo.

Earth Rangers are proud supporters of the zoo’s Head-Starting Program and have signed up over 17,000 kids to help protect the Blanding’s turtle through their Bring Back the Wild fundraising campaign.

Additional support for the program has been provided by The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, the Toronto Field Naturalists, the City of Toronto, and Environment Canada.

 

UPCOMING EVENTS:

LEARN-TO-CAMP, September 13-14

Think you might want to experience the pleasure of camping overnight but just need a helping hand? Parks Canada’s Learn-to-Camp events, co-presented with Mountain Equipment Co-op, may be the perfect outing for you! These affordable events are hosted across Canada and offer you the opportunity to learn how to plan and enjoy safe and successful camping trips.

Parks Canada’s Learn-to-Camp features workshops on camping related skills such as how to set-up a tent or cook in the outdoors. Participants have the opportunity to enjoy fun interpretive programs and other Parks Canada activities.

The future Rouge National Urban Park is proud to once again offer Learn-to-Camp events for the Greater Toronto Area. Some spots still remain for the September 13-14 event. Call 1-888-773-8888 to book your spot. Our June Learn-to-Camp in the Rouge sold out very quickly, so be sure to reserve your spot soon.

You may also wish to download Parks Canada’s popular and free Learn-to-Camp app, where you will find tips, advice and all the information you need to plan and enjoy your first camping trip. And if you are already an experienced camper, you’ll love the recipes, checklists and insider tips too. The app is available on iPhone, Android and Blackberry platforms.

Call 1-888-773-8888 to reserve your spot.

 

WELCOME ROUGE PARK STAFF!

Parks Canada is very pleased and honoured to welcome five former Rouge Park staff to the team.

Maria Papoulias, Michelle Holmes, Vicki Leck, Sheryl Santos and Diana Smyth all accepted offers to join Parks Canada’s team in July and will continue to provide exemplary, distinguished and friendly service to the public as part of the Rouge National Urban Park initiative. All five former Rouge Park staff will continue their important work in key areas such as park ecology and restoration, resource management, volunteer programming, park stewardship and visitor experience.

Collectively, Maria, Michelle, Vicki, Sheryl and Diana have accumulated nearly 40 years of experience working in the Rouge. Their knowledge, skills, dedication and passion for this incredible place are a tremendous resource and asset to the future Rouge National Urban Park and we could not be happier to have them join our team on this most compelling and exciting project.

April 2013

Updates from the Rouge National Urban Park team

With Parks Canada proudly working towards becoming the stewards of Rouge National Urban Park, we have embraced the important role of involving and listening to Canadians, while encouraging them to help shape Canada’s first national urban park. This is an exciting new concept that will celebrate and protect, for current and future generations, a diverse landscape in Canada’s largest metropolitan area. We are pleased to share some updates on this exciting initiative!

A Successful Public Engagement Program

Last summer, Parks Canada led a public engagement program, filled with many outreach events and information sessions, where our staff members were on hand to discuss the Rouge National Urban Park concept.

By the end of the engagement program in October 2012, Parks Canada had received thousands of comments from Canadians, near and far, expressing a diversity of perspectives. Since then, we have been reviewing and analyzing the comments received. A summary report is now available and shared on our public website at www.parkscanada.gc.ca/rouge. For years to come, those of you who provided input can proudly state you helped shape Canada’s first national urban park. Thank-­You!

Next Steps in the Establishment Process

The input received on the Rouge National Urban Park concept, during the summer/fall 2012 engagement program, will help shape the development of the strategic management plan. This plan will provide the overarching guidance for the management of Canada’s first national urban park. Premised on accountability, inclusiveness and collaboration, the strategic management plan will outline for Rouge National Urban Park the integrated delivery of Parks Canada’s mandate for protection, education, and visitor experience. Once in draft form, the strategic management plan will be shared for public comment later in 2013.

In parallel to this planning process, we continue working closely with the public landholders towards a Land Assembly Agreement for the lands included in the proposed study area. In addition, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority continues as the managing authority for the existing Rouge Park, working closely with Parks Canada and local municipalities as the establishment process continues. The TRCA keeps Parks Canada abreast of all discussions and decisions regarding the current park, while regularly seeking our input to ensure decisions are made in the best interest of the future Rouge National Urban Park.

Our New Home

We are pleased to have found a place we can call ‘home’ for our team members. As its temporary office, Parks Canada is leasing the historic Cornell Campbell House from the City of Toronto. Our team has been busy getting the office set up these past months and it is proving to be a great location, given the proximity to the park. The Rouge National Urban Park office is located at 3620 Kingston Road in Scarborough.

Here are our full contact details:

P.O. Box 11024 105 Guildwood Parkway
Scarborough, Ontario M1E 1N0
Tel: 416.264.2020
Fax: 416.264.2167

Did you know….?

The Rouge River and Little Rouge Creek made up the eastern branch of the ‘Carrying Place Trail’ for First Nations and European explorers.

September 2012

Your chance to help shape Canada’s first National Urban Park has just been extended!

The Rouge National Urban Park concept and online public engagement platform have been available on the Parks Canada website since late June. We are so pleased with the incredible amount of input we’ve received from the public that we have extended this important public involvement period. Your opportunity to provide input to our online survey (www.parkscanada.gc.ca/Rouge) has been extended to Monday, October 8, 2012! This is your chance to help shape the future of Rouge National Urban Park. We look forward to hearing from you!

A Busy Summer for Public Engagement

On June 25, 2012 the public engagement process kicked off with a busy summer schedule of events and information sessions. Parks Canada staff were on hand to discuss the Rouge National Urban Park concept and to encourage people to provide their comments through the online survey (www.parkscanada.gc.ca/Rouge). Over 20 events were held both in and around the park, including: the Cedarena fundraiser, Junior Jays game, Farmers Market at the Brickworks, The Guild Alive with Arts and Culture Festival, Senior’s Breakfast, Tour de Rouge Cycling Event, Port Union Waterfront Festival… and the list goes on.

Three public information sessions were hosted at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus, the Markham Museum and the City of Pickering Council Chambers. The three sessions were well attended with an average attendance of 100 interested citizens. Superintendent Pam Veinotte was very pleased with the turnout and expressed the value of these sessions stating: “The chance to interact with interested citizens is very important and allowed Parks Canada staff to listen and understand a variety of perspectives related to the establishment and management of Rouge National Urban Park.”

The City of Toronto is hosting a public meeting where you can learn more about the Beare Road Landfill and provide input on the future of this site. This is an exciting opportunity and Parks Canada will be there to share information about the proposed neighbouring Rouge National Urban Park. The meeting will be held Thursday, October 11, 2012 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m at the Blessed Mother Theresa Catholic Secondary School, 40 Sewells Road

First Nations

Parks Canada continues to engage with First Nations to ensure their communities are informed and their views and concerns are reflected in the establishment and management of Rouge National Urban Park. As part of ongoing engagement, an information session was held in July to discuss the Rouge National Urban Park concept, the land transfer process for park creation and the establishment of a First Nations Advisory Circle. The input of First Nations will be key to successfully presenting the rich Aboriginal history of the Rouge Valley, exploring how the past is linked to current First Nations issues and celebrating the culture of First Nations in ways that engage and educate visitors to the park.

Welcome Rouge National Urban Park Superintendent

The appointment of Rouge National Urban Park’s first superintendent was made earlier this summer. Formerly Superintendent of Canada’s first national park in Banff, Pam Veinotte assumed her new duties on July 16, 2012. Pam brings a wealth of experience to this ground­-breaking position. Throughout her lengthy career with Parks Canada, she has shown a spirit of collaboration and inclusion, building numerous partnerships between the public, private and nonprofit sectors. Welcome Pam!

Best Wishes

The Rouge National Urban Park Team would like to pass along our deepest thanks and our most heartfelt congratulations to Catherine Grenier. As many of our newsletter subscribers know, as Director of the Rouge National Urban Park Initiative, Catherine worked tirelessly in moving this exciting project forward, while forging strong relationships and wonderful new partnering opportunities with countless stakeholders, local organizations and community members. Catherine is now taking some well-deserved time off with her family and her brand new baby boy Justin, born in early August. Congratulations Catherine on the new addition to your family and to your incredible work this past year! We all miss you tremendously! Did you know….? Rouge Park is home to the Carolinian forest; a rare ecosystem that represents less than one­-quarter of one percent of the total land mass of the country.

June 2012

Working together towards a land transfer for the creation of Rouge National Urban Park

On June 25, 2012 The Honourable Peter Kent, Canada’s Environment Minister and Minister responsible for Parks Canada is pleased with the level of collaboration by the public landholders expressing their commitment to work together toward a recommendation on park boundaries, and subsequent land transfer processes, for the creation of Rouge National Urban Park.

With the recently announced financial commitment of $143.7M over ten years the commitment of the public landholders is an important next step towards the establishment of Rouge National Urban Park. Parks Canada will continue to work collectively with all partners including: City of Toronto; City of Pickering; Town of Markham; Regional Municipalities of York and Durham, Toronto Region Conservation Authority; and, the Province of Ontario towards a land transfer agreement for the Fall of 2012.

Another important step taken to ensure the positive momentum built over the last decades continues is the appointment of Ms Pam Veinotte, currently the Superintendent for Banff National Park as Rouge National Urban Park’s first Superintendent. As leader of one of Parks Canada’s most iconic and most visited national parks, the appointment of Ms. Veinotte is another concrete federal commitment.

Help shape Canada’s first National Urban Park

The Rouge National Urban Park concept and online public engagement platform are now available on the Parks Canada website. Input from the public is of great value to Parks Canada and this on-line platform will facilitate participation of interested individuals in shaping Canada’s first national urban park. The Rouge National Urban Park concept, developed this past year with provincial, municipal, Aboriginal, youth and community partners, includes conservation of natural and cultural resources, opportunities for learning, a wide range of visitor experience possibilities, and the integration and promotion of sustainable agriculture. Interested citizens can now access the platform via Parks Canada’s website to learn more about the Rouge National Urban Park initiative and concept, to provide input, or visit the calendar of events and public meetings that will be held over the course of the summer months throughout the Greater Toronto Area.

Did you know….?

Rouge Park is home to City of Toronto’s only working farms?

May 2012

Federal Government announces funding for Rouge National Urban Park

The Government of Canada announced in Budget 2012 its commitment to preserving Canada’s natural beauty and taking action on the creation of Canada’s first national urban park in the Rouge Valley in Ontario.

On May 25, 2012, during a meeting with Aboriginal and community partners, and a broad range of stakeholders, the Honourable Peter Kent, Canada’s Environment Minister and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, and the Honourable Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), announced Budget 2012 funding towards the establishment of Rouge National Urban Park.

Accordingly, $143.7 million was provided over 10 years for park development and interim operations, and $7.6 million per year thereafter was provided for its continuing operations.

Further details regarding this exciting announcement are offered on our website. Please visit www.parkscanada.gc.ca/rouge.

Proposed Study Area

Parks Canada is pleased to share the proposed Study Area for Rouge National Urban Park, which fulfills the original vision for a contiguous network of lands reaching from Lake Ontario in the south all the way north to the Oak Ridges Moraine.

The proposed Study Area for Rouge National Urban Park contains areas that include those in the proposal set out in the Rouge Park Alliance governance report. The area also respects the goals and principles that have been established through this past year of discussions with stakeholders. A detailed map of the proposed Study Area is now available on our website.

Transition Advisory Committee

Building on the legacy of community involvement and multi-jurisdictional cooperation, Parks Canada will create a Transition Advisory Committee, which will provide advice and input on the establishment process and interim management of the park. The Transition Advisory Committee will ensure the diversity of interests is reflected. Appointments will be made this summer by the Honourable Peter Kent, Canada’s Minister of the Environment and the Minister responsible for Parks Canada.

Get Involved

With federal funding now in place, Parks Canada can now officially move forward with the establishment process and will launch the public involvement phase beginning in late June. All Canadians, especially those located in the GTA, should get involved, provide their input and be a part of making history with this Canadian first. Information and a schedule of activities regarding the public involvement phase will soon be posted on our website.

Did you know….?

There is more than 10,000 years of human history in the Rouge Valley?

April 2012

The Government of Canada will take action on the creation of Rouge National Urban Park

As stated in Budget 2012, the Government is committed to preserving Canada’s natural beauty and will take action on the creation of Canada’s first national urban park in the Rouge Valley in Ontario.

The Government of 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. Rouge National Urban Park will be a place where people can gather, connect, be engaged, be stewards.

The opportunity to establish Rouge Park under the stewardship of Parks Canada, as the first national urban park, builds on the legacy of the Agency as international leaders in heritage conservation, visitor experience and partnering opportunities. It is also well aligned with our current priority to meaningfully reach Canada’s youth and its increasingly diverse urban population.

Details regarding how Budget 2012 relates to the Rouge National Urban Park initiative will be offered on our website as they become available. Please visit www.parkscanada.gc.ca/rouge.

A Proposed Park Concept

Parks Canada has been actively developing the Rouge National Urban Park concept– an important component in the establishment process that has been developed this past year based on input from many provincial, municipal, Aboriginal, youth and community partners. The proposed Rouge National Urban Park concept includes such things as conservation of natural and cultural resources, opportunities for learning, a wide range of visitor experience possibilities, and the integration and promotion of sustainable agriculture.

We look forward to finalizing and presenting this proposed concept to all of Canada, as we begin public consultations this summer.

Next Steps

This is a chance in a lifetime to be a part of something brand new; to explore an idea that has never been done before in Canada. With no comparable places, we have a unique opportunity to work together towards building something new – Canada’s first national urban park.

Input from the public is of great value in the park establishment process. Beginning this summer, Parks Canada will ensure there is an opportunity for you to provide input during public consultations.

Following the completion of public consultation, Parks Canada will then be in the position to put forward a recommendation to Government on the legislative process.

This is an exciting time that is only just beginning. Parks Canada embraces the important role our diverse communities, whether Aboriginal peoples, volunteers or local citizens, play in helping to fulfill our mandate. As an Agency, we can’t do our work alone. We welcome your involvement during this establishment process and hope to nurture your long-term involvement with the future management of this treasured place.

Get Involved

Owing its existence to the dedication and engagement illustrated by many local visionaries, our collective passion for this park can be fully celebrated with this federal government commitment. Updates on the Rouge National Urban Park initiative are posted regularly on our public website at www.parkscanada.gc.ca/rouge.

Did you know….?

The current Rouge Park is more than ten times the size of New York’s Central Park or Vancouver’s Stanley Park and 30 times the size of Hyde Park in London, UK.

March 2012

Working together towards the establishment of Canada’s first national urban park

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 builds on the success of the Agency’s past efforts and is well aligned with its current priority to meaningfully reach Canada’s youth as well as its increasingly diverse urban population.

A national urban park is a unique concept in Canada. There are currently no comparable places, and so it will require an innovative conservation and management approach to respond to the park’s unique urban context. Aligned with Parks Canada’s mandate, the concept will include conservation of natural and cultural resources, opportunities for learning, a wide range of visitor experience possibilities, and the integration and promotion of sustainable agriculture.

Parks Canada has been working with several key stakeholders and partners including municipal, provincial, Aboriginal, agriculture, recreation, academic, tourism, conservation, youth and several community partners to shape the key elements for a vision and concept for the implementation of Canada’s first national urban park. This concept will continue to be developed and guided by consultations with a broad range of partners, stakeholders and the public.

Stay Informed

We are pleased to be building all-new web content on Parks Canada’s public website, related to background information and project updates on the Rouge National Urban Park Initiative. Web content will be added regularly over the coming weeks and months, so please visit it regularly. www.parkscanada.gc.ca/

Twitter

We have created a hashtag for Twitter and will post relevant updates through our feed. #RougeNUP (#RougePUN en français).

Facebook

For Facebook users, we encourage you to ‘like’ us so that you receive these regular updates.

Engagement Process to Date

Parks Canada puts great emphasis on building relationships and providing meaningful opportunities for consultation with the Canadian public. The national urban park establishment process has included consultations undertaken with a broad range of stakeholders, partners, youth and First Nations to date. Parks Canada will pursue public consultations beginning this summer 2012 to share the proposed national urban park concept for public input.

Visioning Workshop

This workshop, held in November 2011, brought together the varied experience and perspectives of local stakeholders as well as national and provincial organizations with expertise related to conservation, farming, tourism, recreation, youth engagement and education. As part of the early direction-setting stage in the consultation process, the workshop provided an opportunity for stakeholders to share their experience and views on a concept and vision for Rouge National Urban Park. A report has been prepared and can be viewed at http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/progs/nppn/cnpn-cnnp/rouge/rouge1/rouge2.aspx

Engaging with First Nations

Parks Canada has hosted information sessions in November 2011 and February 2012 with interested First Nations on the establishment of a national urban park in the Rouge Valley. These sessions are for information sharing on the proposed national urban park, while providing an opportunity to explore First Nations interests in the planning, establishment and presentation of the park. The reception has been positive with First Nations showing an interest in contributing to the process as Parks Canada moves forward with this initiative. Additional sessions are planned for March and April 2012.

Landholders Table

A Landholders Table was established in November 2011 to bring all public land holders and current Rouge Park managing authorities together to discuss and, subsequently, make a recommendation on park boundaries and land transfer processes. Although it is too early to say what the final boundary will be, Parks Canada is actively working in collaboration with these valued partners towards this end and has hosted several meetings to-date with this group.

Youth Forum

Parks Canada recognizes the value of involving youth to gain their perspective and opinions and the need to nurture their stewardship and personal connection to this park as well as the rest of Canada’s treasured places.

On February 2, 2012 Parks Canada and the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) co-hosted a youth workshop that included 65 participants from highschool, college and university. As a first opportunity for their involvement, Parks Canada hosted youth from neighbouring Rouge Park communities and organizations, including UTSC, Centennial College, Dunbarton High School, Malvern Family Resource Centre, East Scarborough Storefront, YMCA-GTA and 4H-Ontario. A report has been prepared and can be viewed at http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/progs/np-pn/cnpn-cnnp/rouge/rouge1/atelier-workshop.aspx

Additional Engagement

To develop this new national urban park concept, Parks Canada continues to engage with various partners and stakeholders as part of the planning and establishment process. As this national urban park concept would integrate and promote sustainable agriculture, Parks Canada continues to work with the agricultural community to be inclusive of this context.

Did you know ….?

The Rouge Valley is within approximately 100 km of 20% of the nation’s population.