Canadian Parks and Wildlife Society Paddle: Hear it from Minister Catherine McKenna

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The Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Catherine McKenna, issued the following statement during the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society’s (CPAWS) 4th Annual Paddle the Rouge event at Rouge National Urban Park. She was accompanied by the Honourable Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario, and Janet Sumner, Executive Director of CPAWS Wildlands League, among others.

Minister Catherine McKenna and Premier Kathleen Wynne paddling at Rouge National Urban Park in Toronto, accompanied by Trevor Hesselink and Dave Pearce from CPAWS Wildlands League. (CNW Group/Parks Canada)

“I am always thrilled to participate in CPAWS’ annual Paddle the Rouge event in Canada’s first national urban park. Paddling is an exceptional way for youth and families to spend time outdoors and discover the wonders of nature. I want to thank CPAWS for organizing this event, which is such a great way to experience Rouge National Urban Park, and recognize Premier Wynne for her dedication to completing the Rouge. The event is even more special this year as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

The Rouge has an incredible diversity of natural and cultural treasures from rare forests and wetlands teeming with wildlife to Canada’s richest farmland and some of the oldest Indigenous sites in our country. Such a unique place deserves special protection. That’s why, I am pleased to announce that our government is strengthening the ecological protections for the Rouge through Bill C-18, which is expected to receive Royal Assent tomorrow.

Bill C-18 will amend the Rouge National Urban Park Act to better protect the Park’s important ecosystems and heritage, prioritizing ecological integrity in the management of the park, while also providing long-term certainty for the park’s farmers, so they can continue carrying out their important agricultural activities. It also brings us one-step closer to completing the Rouge in collaboration with the Government of Ontario, who have reaffirmed their commitment to transferring the remaining provincial lands to Parks Canada.

Within a one hour’s drive of 20 per cent of Canada’s population and accessible by public transit, the Rouge offers so many opportunities for Canadians, including youth and newcomers, to experience the outdoors and learn more about our environment and our heritage.

I am also delighted that the Canada 150 Rouge Express, operated by Parkbus and sponsored by TD’s #TDCommonGround and MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op), will be offering a free service from downtown Toronto to Rouge National Urban Park every weekend and long weekend from Canada until Thanksgiving in 2017. I encourage all visitors to take advantage of this easily accessible and environmentally-friendly way to commute to the park!

The Government is very pleased to offer free admission for all visitors to national parks, historic sites, and marine conservation areas in 2017 to celebrate Canada 150. I encourage visitors to plan their trips and discover new and exciting destinations just like the Rouge by consulting Parks Canada’swebsite or downloading the NEW Parks Canada Mobile App.”