Rouge Beach Improvements Project Blog
Follow our projects team as they work to enhance the infrastructure and ecological integrity of the Rouge Beach area of Rouge National Urban Park!
March 2020 – January 2021 Update
Since March 2020, Parks Canada has used a variety of tools and techniques to create opportunities for people to provide feedback on the Rouge Beach Improvements Project, even with COVID-19 physical distancing measures in place.
To inform the public about the project, receive feedback and address concerns, Parks Canada’s public engagement efforts have included park walks, virtual meetings and community presentations, socially-distanced one-on-one meetings, phone calls, written responses, and web and social media messaging.
Parks Canada project staff engaged with the following groups:
- Aquatic Habitat Toronto
- Canadian Environmental Law Association
- City of Pickering
- City of Toronto
- Friends of Rouge National Urban Park
- Friends of the Rouge Watershed
- Ontario Nature
- Pickering Accessibility Advisory Committee
- Pickering Field Naturalists
- Ravine Property Owners Association (RPOA)
- Rick Hansen Foundation
- Rouge National Urban Park First Nations Advisory Circle
- Toronto and Region Conservation Authority
- TransCanada Trail
- Waterfront Regeneration Trust
- West Rouge Community Association (WRCA)
- Wildlands League (Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society - CPAWS)
Feedback Received to Date
Parks Canada received feedback from many locals, community members, community groups, Indigenous partners and organizations that have shown great interest in this project. In general, the feedback has been supportive and there is strong support to see the area protected and for Parks Canada to improve accessibility.
The feedback flagged important concerns and asked Parks Canada to clarify a number of items. Some of these include:
- disturbance to the wildlife in the marsh;
- the sensitive environment of the marsh;
- potential for increased garbage, noise, unwanted social issues;
- safety of visitors and locals;
- concerns about flooding and damage to infrastructure;
- access to the beach during construction;
- access to the water;
- increased vehicular and human traffic; and
- questions on whether an environmental assessment will be done.
Comments and concerns from the public have helped highlight areas where we will place additional focus in the impact assessment and planning stages of the project. The concerns and points of clarification are items we are aware of and are focused on addressing for this project.
Let’s Talk Rouge (March 2020 – December 2020)
The Let’s Talk Rouge website enabled people to share ideas on the beach and boardwalk trail components and draw attention to important issues in the beach and marsh areas of the park, from ecological preservation and restoration to safety and security. Contributions from the public in the Let’s Talk Rouge’s Ideas, Survey, Stories and Q&A sections were collected and have informed project design and construction planning.
The Let’s Talk Rouge website has now been replaced by new Rouge Beach Improvements Project pages on the Rouge National Urban Park website. While the Let’s Talk webpages will no longer be updated, they will remain accessible.
New Website (January 2021)
The Rouge Beach Improvements Project’s new website was developed to enhance and facilitate engagement with a greater number of stakeholders. The website is the main source for project updates and the avenue for the public to provide valuable feedback, and it will be active until the project has been completed. Please be sure to check in regularly to get up-to-date information on the project.
Extended Public Engagement
In light of COVID-19, Parks Canada has extended the deadline for public feedback on the Rouge Beach Improvements Project by 6 months to May 1, 2021.
As part of this extended engagement period, Parks Canada is continuing to conduct community co-design workshops/meetings and walks. In addition to the extended public engagement period, the public will have an opportunity to also comment and provide feedback on the project’s Detailed Impact Assessment (DIA), which will be posted on the Canadian Impact Assessment Registry in early 2021.
There will be a number of public engagement opportunities in early 2021.
For more information on this project, and to provide feedback or request a meeting with a member of our project team, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We want to hear from you!
Your opinions are important in helping Parks Canada achieve the proposed ecological, infrastructural and social improvements. We have had and will continue to have many meaningful discussions with partners, stakeholders and members of the public regarding the project. Parks Canada tracks all feedback received on the Rouge Beach Improvements Project. The results of all public engagement will be posted online in a “What We Heard” accountability report later in 2021.
Parks Canada will continue to work with and listen to the community on design and environmental solutions. Your voice and opinions are important to us as we work to protect and improve Rouge National Urban Park for all Canadians.
Improving the Coastal Wetland Ecosystem in Rouge National Urban Park
The removal of “Canada’s worst invasive plant” from the Rouge Marsh shows how Parks Canada’s restoration and conservation efforts are improving the ecological integrity in this area of the park, which features a level of native biodiversity not found anywhere else in Toronto.
An invasive species management crew, along with Parks Canada staff and Indigenous partners, have removed dense stands of European Common Reed (Phragmites australis) from the marsh wetlands near Rouge Beach.
The tall perennial grass, native to Eurasia and now found throughout much of Ontario, grows aggressively, crowding out native vegetation and leaving less open water and food for wildlife. In addition to mitigating habitat loss, removing the invasive plants helps to stop their spread as a result of other initiatives being planned as part of Parks Canada’s Rouge Beach Improvements Project.
The Parks Canada impact assessment process
The Parks Canada impact assessment process has been developed to fulfil legal obligations under the Impact Assessment Act, as well as other legal and mandated obligations to protect and present Canada’s natural and cultural heritage. Projects and activities with the greatest potential to result in adverse impacts to important natural or cultural resources are assigned to an in-depth, but focused level of analysis through the Detailed Impact Assessment, or DIA, impact assessment pathway. DIAs support decision-making by providing appropriate and rigorous analysis based on sound science, Indigenous knowledge, and Parks Canada policy.
Every DIA involves the following elements:
- early integration into the project planning process;
- the careful identification and selection of valued components (VCs);
- the application of evidence based decision-making; an appropriate level of public engagement; and
- Indigenous engagement and/or Indigenous consultation.
These elements provide the focus, rigour and inclusiveness necessary for the assessment of complex proposals, in a manner appropriate to the potential for adverse environmental impacts.
The public engagement process for the DIA is currently under development. At a minimum, notification of the DIA will be posted on the Canadian Impact Assessment Registry and the draft DIA will be made available for public comment.
Recent improvements to the Rouge Beach upper parking lot
In early August 2020, Parks Canada made some much needed improvements to the upper parking lot at Rouge Beach. These improvements include:
- Adding a solid yellow line to delineate traffic lanes along the main road down to the lower parking lot
- Improved identification of the multi-use pedestrian/cyclist laneway by adding a “flexpost” barrier with reflectors and signage
- Improved Parks Canada signage at the site to increase visitor awareness of multi-use lanes while in the parking lot
- Re-grading gravel parking lot which eliminated potholes
These changes above will make it safer for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists to use this space. The Rouge is committed on working with the local Councillor and the community on improving this area of the park!
A pattern of flooding at Rouge Beach
During the 2017 and 2019 summer season, flooding at Rouge Beach effectively closed the beach access for the majority of the operational season. As you can see from the photos, the high water levels flooded the entire parking area, the trail to the beach, and caused extensive erosion and damage to the shoreline and paved areas. Flooding also created unsanitary and unsafe conditions, making it dangerous for public use.
The frequency and severity of rising water levels and weather events is one of many key issues park planners are considering as we work to protect the ecological integrity and the enjoyment of this site for generations to come.
February community walks - thanks!
From November to February, project managers conducted site visits and meetings with multiple partners and stakeholders including the Waterfront Regeneration Trust; the West Rouge Community Association; The Friends of Rouge National Urban Park; the Rouge National Urban Park First Nations Advisory Circle; the Pickering Rouge Canoe Club; the Pickering Naturalists; Councillor McKelvie; and the Honourable David Crombie. We look forward to continued collaboration with these and other groups in the coming months.
On February 16th, 17th, 21st, and 22nd, Rouge National Urban Park hosted local community tours of the Rouge Beach and proposed trail options. Organised by the West Rouge Community Association and the Waterfront Regeneration Trust, over 50 people participated in the community tours and the discussion and feedback received will help further inform conversations and decisions around the future of this much loved and important area.
For more information on this project, and to provide feedback or request a meeting with a member of our project team, please contact us at email@example.com. In light of COVID-19, the deadline for public feedback has been extended by 6 months to May 1, 2021.
Read what others are saying about the Rouge Beach Improvements Project