UTSC partners with Parks Canada on Rouge National Urban Park
by Andrew Westoll
In an historic agreement with Parks Canada, the University of Toronto Scarborough has taken a leading role in the transformation of the Rouge Valley into Canada’s first national urban park.
A Memorandum of Understanding signed yesterday establishes UTSC as the primary research and education partner with Parks Canada as the agency launches the planning process for the new Rouge National Urban Park. This planning process began today, with a multi-stakeholder Visioning Workshop hosted by UTSC at the Miller Lash House.
Representatives from more than thirty regional, provincial and federal organizations are on campus for the workshop. In a speech kicking off the day, Minister of the Environment the Honourable Peter Kent remarked upon the unique importance of the Rouge. “We are truly building a ‘people’s park,’ where connections will be forged between Canada’s youth and the elements that make us truly Canadian.... Among this ever-growing metropolis, protection of this sanctuary of open space and cultural stories will diversify Toronto’s sense of place, offering residents somewhere to find revitalization and reflection, right in their own backyard.”
In last year’s Speech from the Throne, the Harper Government announced plans to transform Rouge Park, already one of North America’s largest urban parks, into the Rouge National Urban Park. At 47 square kilometres, the Rouge is ten times larger than New York’s Central Park, thirty times larger than London’s High Park, and its location on the border of Scarborough and Pickering puts it within driving distance of 20% of Canada’s population.
The park is home to a range of unique natural and cultural resources, including two national historic sites, a rare Carolinian forest system, many species at risk and several internationally renowned geological outcrops. It is also a sanctuary for tens of thousands of city dwellers who visit the park every year to hike, swim and camp.
According to UTSC Vice-Principal of Research Malcolm Campbell, this collaboration on the Rouge with Parks Canada offers plenty of exciting scientific and educational opportunities for the campus, and highlights UTSC’s growing reputation as a world-renowned centre for environmental science.
“UTSC is located at the very interface between the urban and natural worlds, both geographically-speaking and in terms of our scientific and educational mandates. This partnership with Parks Canada and the new Rouge National Urban Park is just a natural fit. It will provide our researchers and student body with a multi-dimensional ecological and cultural resource at our very doorstep, a place of wilderness, wonder and exploration where the ecological stewards and natural scientists of tomorrow will receive a world-class education. We couldn’t be more excited to help lead the transformation of this local and national treasure.”
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