announced over the weekend that if re-elected, his government
will increase its proposed contribution of federal lands towards
the creation of the Rouge National Urban Park.
The park has been in the works for some time. To comprise a
patchwork of both provincial and federal lands located within
metropolitan Toronto, the park was once touted widely as a
conservation coup and prototype for the country's first
national urban park. As part of an agreement between the provincial
and federal governments, the province was to hand over its portion
of the lands to the feds to create the park, which was to be
administered by Parks Canada.
Instead of creating it under the auspices of the Canada National Parks Act, SC 2000, c
32, the federal plan has been to create the park under stand-alone
Plans for the park stalled when, last fall, the province
ultimately refused to hand over its portion of the lands to create
the park due to concerns over the level of protection offered by
the proposed federal legislation. The Rouge National Urban Park Act, SC 2015, c 10, (now in
effect) appears to offer weaker ecological protection than is
available for parks created under the National Parks Act and under
its provincial counterpart, the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act, SO
2006, C 12.
Ontario's reservations seemed to stem largely from the
statute's weak language around, and lack of prioritization for,
the protection the proposed park's ecological integrity.
Unfortunately, this latest announcement does not appear to
assuage such concerns. Instead of working with the province to
create a park with mutually acceptable protections, this approach
appears to offer more of the same protections for a wider swath of
This is a disappointing development, particularly in light of a
CPAWS report that Canada lags significantly behind most of its
developed world counterparts in meeting—and is, in fact,
almost certain at its current rate to miss—its commitment to
protect at least 17% of its land and inland waterways by 2020 as
part of the Aichi Targets under the Convention on Biological
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