On June 15, 2019, Canada’s first national urban park reached a major milestone in its establishment – officially making the Rouge one of the world’s largest protected areas in an urban setting.

Parks Canada and the Toronto Region and Conservation Authority (TRCA) announced that TRCA has transferred 18.5 km2 of lands to Parks Canada to become part of Rouge National Urban Park. The announcement was made at CPAWS Wildlands League’s annual Paddle the Rouge event.

The transferred lands include the majority of the original regional Rouge Park and encompass wilderness and biodiversity found nowhere else in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) including dramatic river valleys, majestic forests, wetlands, portions of the Lake Ontario shoreline, as well as the highest concentration of species at risk in the region. The transferred lands also include some of the last remaining tracts of Class-1 farmland in the GTA – the richest, rarest and most fertile soil in the country.

The celebration event was also an opportunity to celebrate the completion of Rouge National Urban Park’s very first Management Plan that will guide the park as it moves from a focus on establishment to full operations. Highlights of the management plan include focusing on species-at-risk and habitat restoration, working with the Rouge National Urban Park First Nations Advisory Circle on all aspects of the park, and establishing the Rouge as a premier “Learn-to” destination where GTA residents and visitors can learn to camp, paddle and hike.

Moving forward, Parks Canada will continue to work in collaboration with environmental groups, farmers, Indigenous peoples, and other stakeholders to achieve ecological gains within the Rouge, while also conserving the park’s cultural and agricultural heritage.

Rouge National Urban Park is within a one hour’s drive of 20 per cent of Canada’s population and accessible by public transit, providing unprecedented opportunities for Canadians, including many youth and newcomers, to discover and connect with nature. Canadians are invited to explore and discover the Rouge this summer with many new and innovative visitor experiences.

Rouge National Urban Park map