Rouge Park receives major donation of land from Province
Toronto – Honourable David Ramsay, Minister of Natural Resources, announced the Province of Ontario’s donation of
roughly 1400 hectares of land for Rouge Park purposes, an area six times the size of the Toronto Islands. These new lands
contribute to Rouge Park’s status as one of the largest natural environment parks in an urban setting in North America.
The Greater Toronto Area’s Rouge Park is approaching a size of 15 times that of New York City’s Central Park, five times
that of London, England’s Hyde Park, or five times that of Toronto’s Downsview Park.
Roughly 660 hectares are immediately adjacent to the Little Rouge River in York Region. Other parcels in Toronto and
Pickering equal 770 hectares. The lands are a mix of rural agricultural and natural areas. Their important natural heritage
values will help Rouge Park to provide a continuous ecological corridor, including a 600-metre wide band of interior
forest habitats, stretching from the Oak Ridges Moraine to Lake Ontario. Future public uses will include a network of
hiking trails linking regional trail systems such as the Oak Ridges Trail and the Lake Ontario Waterfront Trail.
Human heritage values of the donated property include the remnants of a significant 300 year old Seneca village, now
designated as a National Historic Site and a variety of historic homes and farmsteads. It is Rouge Park’s intent to
encourage ecologically sound, productive agricultural uses. Maintaining contact with the farming community to balance
restoration work with its long-term goals will be key to maintaining the rural character of the area.
“This significant donation of land means that Rouge Park will protect and restore a large portion of the Little Rouge River,
a significant tributary and one of the most ecologically healthy streams in the Greater Toronto Area,” observed Ron
Christie, Chair of the Rouge Park Alliance, the board of directors for the Park. “This is the largest addition of land since the
Park was created nine years ago. We are very grateful to the Province of Ontario for this contribution, and we look
forward to the possibility of additional public lands to strengthen Rouge Park’s role in the GTA Greenbelt in the future.”
Rouge Park will assess the lands along the Little Rouge River corridor north of Steeles Avenue to identify opportunities
for ecological restoration to create a variety of habitat types, such as meadows, forests and wetlands. Net revenues from
properties currently leased to residential and agricultural tenants will be used to fund restoration work and other Park
programmes, including the creation of trail network over the longer term.
Rouge Park was established in 1995, after years of citizen support for the preservation of the Rouge River valley. Land
and start-up funds from the Provincial and Federal governments along with on-going planning and management
support from municipal governments, other public agencies and one not-for-profit group all contribute to Rouge Park’s
success as a partnership park.
Rouge Park Awards Given to Community Members
Markham – Each year, the Rouge Park Award is given to a member or members of the community who have made
outstanding contributions to North America’s largest natural environment park in an urban setting. This evening,
at the 7th annual Rouge Park awards ceremony, eight individuals and one group were recognized for their work to
benefit the Park.
2004 Rouge Park Award winner, the Park’s former General Manager, Gord Weeden, was an enthusiastic recipient
and reminded everyone of the importance of partnership in making this unique park a great success. Weeden was
the inaugural GM for Rouge Park, serving from 1995, when the Park was established, until 2001. Gord brought with
him many years of experience with provincial parks.
Ron Christie, Chair of the Rouge Park Alliance, the decision-making board for the Park, reflected on Mr. Weeden’s
contributions: “It was not easy to be the pioneering staff at a newly formed, and in many ways experimental, park
when Gord started at Rouge Park in 1995. His ability to work with people was a key factor for Rouge Park’s success
in gaining support from many local groups and individuals, all four levels of government, and the private sector. In
the early days of Rouge Park, Gord fostered those relationships to raise awareness about Rouge Park and the many
tasks that needed to be done.”
Awards were given to private land owners of residential and corporate properties who have demonstrated good
stewardship by implementing environmental Best Management Practices. These land owners, who have
demonstrated a commitment to protecting the environment on their lands for the long term were recognized as
Rouge River Keepers. This year’s two winners are Kelly Carrick, a resident of Whitchurch-Stouffville, and Station
Creek Golf Club, also in Whitchurch-Stouffville.
In addition, Heritage Awards were given to six individuals who have each made a significant contribution to the
protection, restoration and enhancement of the natural ecosystems of the Park by ensuring the health and
diversity of its native species, habitats, landscapes and ecological processes. The six 2004 winners are two staff
from the City of Toronto: Tom Boudreault and Chris Hope; one staff from the Town of Markham, Lilli Duoba; Mike
Fenning of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority; and two staff from the provincial government, Garry
Pringle of Ontario Realty Corporation and Steve Varga of the Ministry of Natural Resources.