Canada's first 'National Urban Park' gets the go-ahead
Published Friday, May 25, 2012 7:44PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, June 11, 2012 6:08PM EDT
Plans to transform the Greater Toronto Area's Rouge Valley into the first national urban park in Canada moved a step closer to reality Friday after the Federal government pledged more than $140 million.
Peter Kent, Canada's Environment Minister and minister responsible for Parks Canada, and Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty announced that the Canadian government plans to commit $143.7 million over the next 10 years to create the first-of-its-kind Rouge National Urban Park.
An additional $7.6 million will be earmarked each year after that for parks maintenance.
"Rouge National Urban Park will become the pride of the GTA and will bring significant benefits to local residents as well as those who come and visit in the Greater Toronto Area," Flaherty said at a press conference Friday morning.
"You have helped ensure the Rouge Valley has remained a special place in the GTA. Today we take an additional step to make it a special place for all of Canada and to make sure it is protected for this and future generations."
The government first unveiled plans for a massive 47-square-kilometre Rouge Park, located between Scarborough and Pickering, in its June 2011 throne speech.
"In this, the 100th anniversary year of our national parks system, our government will create significant new protected areas. It will work with provincial, regional, municipal, aboriginal and community stakeholders toward establishing an urban national park in the Rouge Valley of eastern Toronto," the document said.
"Looking to the future, our government will engage a broad range of stakeholders on the development of a national conservation plan, to move our conservation objectives forward and better connect all Canadians with nature."
The country's March 2012 budget committed $100 million to the plan.
The area, which is 13 times bigger than Central Park in New York City, is expected to include a lakefront beach, wetlands, campground sites and more than 16 kilometres of hiking trails amongst thousands of plant and animal species.