Sustainability initiatives at Rouge National Urban Park
Parks Canada is committed to conserving the lands in Rouge National Urban Park (RNUP) to be enjoyed by Canadians and visitors from around the world for generations to come. Protected areas like the Rouge play a key role in reducing the effects of climate change. As we work towards completing the establishment of RNUP, a variety of sustainability initiatives are taking place throughout the park and are being built into its infrastructure. Below are just some of the ways that Parks Canada is leading the way in sustainable park management in RNUP.
Parks Canada has completed 64 ecological, restoration, and farmland enhancement projects in RNUP since 2015. Check out the conservation section on our website to read more about tree planting, our Blanding’s turtle reintroduction program, wetland restoration, and more important initiatives helping to protect the Rouge’s natural and cultural heritage for generations to come.
Free Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
In August 2020, Parks Canada announced that 28 sites across the country now have Tesla donated electric vehicle charging stations available for visitors to use including RNUP. Visitors can recharge with a refreshing hike in the national urban park while their vehicle recharges too. These chargers allow Parks Canada to better serve visitors with electric vehicles and are part of the Agency’s ongoing work in greening operations and fighting climate change. Find both Tesla and J-1772 chargers at Bob Hunter Memorial Park and the Reesor Road Day Use Area in RNUP.
Parks Canada is undertaking several trail building projects to connect Lake Ontario with the Oak Ridges Moraine creating a fully connected network of trails throughout the park. Sustainability is top of mind when building these new trails. Trails bordering agricultural fields will have a planted buffer, which will provide shade and ecosystem services to the surrounding farm fields as the years go by. When building, staff lay down clear stone in areas that are prone to being wet. This allows water to flow under the trail, therefore not washing it out. It also decreases maintenance costs and the wasting of trail material, which ultimately lets the trail work with nature.
One of the newest trails being added to the RNUP network will also feature two boardwalks made of mostly fiberglass. Fiberglass is a very durable plastic mixed with glass that won’t break down into micro-plastics. There are many more benefits as well. The substructure will last over 100 years. They will withstand extreme heat and are fire retardant. They can also be placed in water without leaching. These fiberglass boardwalks are a first in Parks Canada history and our newest green initiative.
Parks Canada incorporates a variety of waste reduction and diversion strategies into events in RNUP. In-park events always incorporate the use of compostable/bio-degradable serving utensils and napkins when food is being offered. We encourage public transit and shuttle bus transportation options to events. We have also reduced the need for gas-powered generators by investing in and informing designs for purpose-build infrastructure throughout the park. This will allow for outdoor electrical servicing, including an outdoor electrical post at Bob Hunter Memorial Park and electrical outlets at the picnic shelter at our Black Walnut Day Use Area near Stouffville.
Day Use Areas
As Parks Canada works towards building and upgrading day use areas in Rouge National Urban Park, a variety of sustainable initiatives have been incorporated. Bike racks and repair stations have been installed at two new day use areas to promote active transportation to the park and to compliment new multi-use trails. Wildlife-proof garbage receptacles have been installed north of Steeles Avenue to ensure waste is disposed of properly and not ingested by wildlife. The security lighting at all of our northern parking lots are also solar-powered. Additionally, solar-powered charging stations for electronic devices have also been installed at the Glen Rouge Campground.