Partnership to see rehabilitation of lands donated by Government of Ontario
NEWMARKET – As part of Earth Week, representatives of The Regional Municipality of York, Rouge Park and the Government of Ontario gathered in the Town of Markham today for a tree-planting ceremony to celebrate a greening partnership that will see large sections of Rouge Park reforested and restored to its natural state.
The ceremony follows the recent announcement by the Government of Ontario to expand Rouge Park by an additional 600 hectares (1,500 acres) as well as a generous financial commitment of $2 million to assist in the restoration of the Park’s natural and cultural heritage values.
“With our Rouge Park and Government of Ontario partners, we have a tremendous opportunity to restore the natural heritage of one of York Region’s most rapidly urbanizing areas,” said York Region Chairman and CEO Bill Fisch. “Today we are helping to build a greening legacy that will be enjoyed by future generations for years to come.”
“The outstanding support from the Government of Ontario brings us closer to meeting our natural, cultural and agricultural heritage objectives,” said Gord Weeden, Chair of Rouge Park’s board of directors, the Rouge Park Alliance. “These funds will be dedicated to restoring lands and historical properties in the park, increasing public awareness of the Park’s assets, and providing an enjoyable and memorable experience for our visitors.”
Rouge Park comprises nearly 4,700 hectares (11,600 acres) of land, covering three watersheds in York Region, Durham Region and the City of Toronto. It is Canada’s premiere urban wilderness park, situated in the provincial Greenbelt. Rouge Park is home to a variety of landscapes, including forests, meadows, wetlands and river valleys, and provides a major reservoir for biodiversity in the Greater Toronto Area.
As a member of the Rouge Park Alliance, York Region has enjoyed a longstanding partnership role with Rouge Park, and has committed to a joint, multi-year restoration program of the new lands donated by the province.
“The McGuinty government is committed to building a clean, green and healthy Ontario,” said Michael Chan, Minister of Revenue and MPP for Markham announced today as part of the province’s Earth Week celebrations. “To help manage and restore the natural, cultural and agricultural heritage of one of North America’s largest urban green spaces, the Province of Ontario is pleased to be providing $2 million to the Rouge Park Alliance. Improvements to Rouge Park will give residents in Markham and across the province more opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.”
“The preservation and expansion of our forests and green spaces is critical if we are to continue with the high quality of life that we currently enjoy in York Region,” said Town of Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti, Master of Ceremonies for the event. “This major reforestation initiative in Rouge Park today will serve as a starting point for a renewed effort by the Town of Markham to aggressively increase its forest coverage over the coming years.”
York Regional Council established a forest cover target of 25 per cent of its land base as part of the York Region Greening Strategy. Through property securement and a number of partnerships with environmental stakeholder groups, the Region has succeeded in adding nearly 530 hectares (1,300 acres) to that total – for a combined coverage of 23 per cent – since 2001.
As part of the reforestation efforts, York Region and Rouge Park will implement several initiatives, including the Rouge Park Management Plan, the Little Rouge Corridor Management Plan and a Heritage Action Plan – each designed to target specific restoration opportunities throughout Rouge Park.
- 30 -
Media Contact: Michael Kemp, Corporate Communications, York Region
Phone: (905) 830-4444, ext. 1232 or Cell (905) 251-6419