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UTSC hosts Rouge National Urban Park youth workshops

by Kimberley Tull

On February 2, 2012, Parks Canada and the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) hosted two workshops for youth from the eastern Greater Toronto Area. The sessions provided a venue for the region’s young people to contribute their thoughts and ideas to the ongoing development of Canada’s first national urban park, to be located in the nearby Rouge river valley.

“You are tomorrow’s leaders, here’s your chance to shape your community,” said Malcolm Campbell, vice-principal (research) at UTSC, as he addressed the audience. Echoing him was Andrew Campbell, vice-president of external relations and visitor experience at Parks Canada, who advised the group, “Get involved, get engaged. It is a blank slate. Have your voice heard, and create a legacy for your community and for Canada.”

Participants learned that the Rouge valley is an important element in the natural world as it maintains ecosystem functions, preserves species, provides green space, supports sustainable food and is home to important cultural resources, including two national historic sites.

Then participants began a dialogue on a shared vision for the park. The workshops provided an overview of the national urban park concept and its potential impact on the people and communities surrounding it. The students were awed by the vastness of the proposed park and felt encouraged that they could each contribute to the park’s conceptual framework. Participants developed ideas about how the park should be used, providing thoughts on which essential activities the park should include. Common themes were accessibility, partnerships, technology and nature.

UTSC is excited to be the primary research and education partner with Parks Canada on the development of the Rouge National Urban Park. This partnership highlights UTSC’s growing reputation as a hub for scholarship on environmental issues, and paves the way for exciting opportunities in research, teaching and training for our campus and community. The recent workshops were just the starting point for a much longer journey ahead, but they were crucial in setting a solid foundation and in providing the youth of our community with a strong, engaged voice.

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News/Events / Campus Pulse
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