The Government of Canada Announces the Creation of Rouge National Urban Park
By Amanda Brodhagen, Farms.com
The importance of farmland preservation shouldn’t be underestimated. Every day across Ontario we lose on average 100 acres of farmland. The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of preserving farmland for future generations with the creation of the country’s first national urban park nestled in the Rouge Valley just east of Toronto. The government has committed over $143.7 million over a span of ten years to the project. The creation of the national park has taken decades of lobbying and planning with local interest groups. One of the key players involved throughout this process is The Ontario Farmland Trust a charitable organization that seeks to protect and preserve farmland.
“We’re excited to see that farmland is being protected in a park context and the agricultural community engaged” says Matt Setzkorn, Policy Coordinator for the Ontario Farmland Trust.
The new park will spur the creation of a new park model that will allow agricultural production to be a part of the parks mission. This is a big undertaking as the proposed park will consist of 5,000 acres of farmland within York region. This area consists of some of Canada’s best agriculture farmland but it’s also an area facing the biggest pressures to urban development. The Rouge National Park will preserve primary class one agriculture land which is a special designation given to farmland that is capable of sustaining all types of farm production.
This initiative is one of a kind, as it not only seeks to preserve some of the country’s most precious farmland but it will also help bridge the gap between rural and urban communities. Education could play a key role in the future planning stages of the park. The location is a prime opportunity to build connections with urban residence to agriculture and to sustain local food production.
“Local food is huge when you have this secure area, it will in a sense create a buffer zone for other surrounding farmland” says Setzkorn.
This announcement will also transform the way farmers in that region manage their operation because prior to this announcement farmers were facing significant challenges on insecure month-to-month leases which prevented them from investing in the stewardship of the land. The protection of these lands will provide more security for farmers and will encourage innovation.