Last week, the provincial government quietly announced agreements that will transfer the management of 4,000 acres of provincially-owned land in the greenbelt and Oak Ridges Moraine from Infrastructure Ontario to area conservation authorities. The agreements are between Infrastructure Ontario and the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority and Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. The announcement can be found posted on Oak Ridges-Markham MPP Helena Jaczek’s website.
The federal government has released few details regarding its plans for a national park in the Rouge Valley and according to a media release from Jaczek, “the agreements will be in place until the federal government moves forward with its plan to create a Rouge National Park.”
However, only some of the lands included in the transfer are located in the Rouge Valley, while others are in the Humber River watershed, which is not part of the Rouge Park system.
“For the greenbelt, this has no impact simply because there is no development allowed there anyway, it’s just about who gets to manage the land,” explained Friends of the Greenbelt CEO Burkhard Mausberg in an interview with Novae Res Urbis.
“My suspicion is that this is all part of the eventual national park around Rouge. Nobody knows what the definition of the boundary of the park is yet. I would suggest that this is going to be the cause of the biggest debate about the Rouge Park. Where is the boundary? Some folks want to keep it small. Some folks want to include the airport lands [in Pickering.] I would expect a very healthy and fruitful debate.”
The management of all of the the parcels will be transferred to the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, with the exception of one group of parcels in Uxbridge, which will be managed by the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority.
“What they’re actually doing is they’re leasing the land to us to manage for 20 years,” explained TRCA manager of acquisition and sales Mike Fenning in an interview with Novae Res Urbis.
Three parcel groups are included in the transfer, according to Fenning. One parcel is a part of the Rouge Park in Markham, another is located in Uxbridge. The third is a 1,000-acre parcel in Richmond Hill, known as the corridor parklands. It spans the middle of Richmond Hill, connects the east and west sides of the town and forms the headwaters of the Humber River.
According to Fenning, the lands in Rouge Park and in East Markham have been owned by the province for decades, but the other parcels in Richmond Hill and Uxbridge were part of recent provincial Seaton and Oak Ridges land exchanges.
Town of East Gwillimbury mayor and Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority chair Virginia Hackson said the LSRCA is “pleased” with the provincial government’s leadership role in environmental protection.
“In addition to providing a clean source of drinking water, this land contains provincially significant wetlands, is home to watershed-rare species, provides opportunity for reforestation and links to the Uxbridge Countryside Preserve and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority’s East Duffins Headwaters,” added Hackson.
Written by Kristine Janzen, Planning Reporter
Copyright Novae Res Urbis Publishing Inc.
Greater Toronto Edition Wednesday September 7, 2011 Vol. 14 No. 35