Rouge Park Recognized as Important Part of Provincial Greenbelt in Toronto Area
The Ontario Greenbelt Plan specifically identifies Rouge Park, and the watershed which is its home, as being of particular significance within the Protected Countryside. The Greenbelt Plan solidifies the Park’s important natural habitats by recognizing them as a reservoir of biodiversity and a valuable natural link between the Oak Ridges Moraine and Lake Ontario, with an ecological corridor 600 metres wide, centred on Little Rouge Creek. This special consideration builds on the Rouge North Management Plan and the Town of Markham’s Official Plan Amendment to protect such a corridor by establishing this as a Provincial requirement.
“The Province of Ontario has once again shown its support for the core values of Rouge Park,” observed Gord Weeden, Chair of the Park’s board of directors, the Rouge Park Alliance. “Significant public investment has been made in Rouge Park and now the Greenbelt regulations offer a new level of protection for this natural asset.”
“Most importantly, the Greenbelt Plan requires that land use planning and resource management within the Rouge River watershed part of the Protected Countryside comply not only with the Greenbelt Plan, but also with the Rouge North Management Plan,” noted Lewis Yeager, the Park’s general manager. “The more restrictive policies between the two plans will apply, and we will work with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to define a process for determining which policies are more restrictive.”
Outside of the Protected Countryside area, the Province has clearly stated that the Rouge North Management Plan criteria for determining ecologically-significant park lands, along with supporting Park plans, will be the guiding land planning and resource management documents in the York Region area of the Rouge River watershed. South of Steeles Avenue, the Rouge Park Management Plan will be the guiding document.
The accompanying regulations under the Greenbelt Act 2005 also help to protect the Park. Regulation 58/05 defines the boundary of the Greenbelt area. Regulation 61/05 is important to Rouge Park since it is a retroactive transition regulation that applies to the Rouge River watershed municipalities. Unapproved planning applications in the Rouge River watershed within the Greenbelt area, regardless of when they were filed, must comply with all policies of the Greenbelt Plan.