Extended Deadline for Public Participation in the Rouge National Urban Park Beach and Boardwalk Project

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Artist’s impression of a boardwalk and jetty project at the southern end of the Rouge National Urban Park marsh / Parks Canada

Rouge National Urban Park accept public comments on its Red Beach Improvement Project until May 1 because of the Covid-19.

The plan is to revitalize the day-use area at Rouge Beach, one of the most visited areas in the sprawling park, create a trail connecting Rouge Beach to the Mast Trail, revitalize the start of the existing Mast Trail, and add new walk elements. It will save, renovate, restore and protect the park’s infrastructure and landscapes currently threatened by flooding and erosion while ensuring that people can still access the beach and marshes.

“The pandemic has reminded us that we must maximize our green and natural spaces, connect them to our neighborhoods and to each other not only for the sake of the environment, but also for our own physical and mental well-being,” explains Waterfront Regeneration Trust Executive Director Marlaine Koehler in a comment posted in the “community support” section of the project website.

Rouge completed its Beach and Boardwalk technical feasibility report in December 2019, began the audience engagement stage last March, and then decided to extend it for six months.

Recognizing the physical remoteness, the park attempted to educate the public about the project, receive feedback and address concerns. He has organized walks, virtual meetings and community presentations, one-on-one social distance meetings, phone calls, written responses, and web and social media messages.

Parks Canada received feedback from Indigenous partners, locals, community members, community groups and organizations. Most people would like to see the protected area and have better accessibility, but many have reported concerns such as:

• Disturbance of wildlife in the marsh
• The sensitive environment of the marsh
• Potential for increased waste, noise and unwanted social problems
• Safety of visitors and residents
• Concerns about flooding and damage to infrastructure
• Access to the beach during construction
• Access to water
• Increase in car and human traffic
• Questions about performing an environmental assessment

A recent view of the Rouge National Urban Park boardwalk.

A December 2020 view of the boardwalk through the marsh in Rouge National Urban Park / Parks Canada

Rouge – Canada’s only national urban park – is found in the Greater Toronto Area and within reach of 20 percent of the country’s population. It protects Class 1 farmland, one of the region’s largest marshes, a Lake Ontario beach, and some of Canada’s oldest known Indigenous sites.

The park was officially established on May 15, 2015, when the Rouge National Urban Park Act came into effect. Since then, several plots of land have been transferred to the Rouge and it submitted its first master plan in 2019. Its first facilities built by Parks Canada and its family trail have opened and an education and visitor center is In progress.

Rouge is 95% complete and will eventually span 79.1 square kilometers (30 square miles) from Toronto, Markham, Pickering and Uxbridge Township and will be 23 times the size of Central Park in New York City.

Parks Canada has committed $ 7.5 million (US $ 5.9 million) to the Rouge Beach Improvement Project.

Glenn De Baeremaeker – a member of the Friends of the Rouge National Urban Park and a former deputy mayor of Toronto – said in a released statement that the new promenade “will allow people to access the beauty of the Rouge, but will not allow them to access the beauty of the Rouge. to walk everywhere. the place and it will keep them away from the most sensitive parts of the swamp. Access for people and protection of nature at the same time. Unbelievable.”

A toilet available on the beach in Rouge National Urban Park.

Artist’s rendering of a proposed toilet for the Lake Ontario beach in Rouge National Urban Park / Parks Canada

From March to December 2020, a Let’s Talk Red Website allowed people to share ideas about the beach and boardwalk components and draw attention to issues such as ecological preservation and restoration, safety and security.

In January, the site was replaced with the Red Beach Improvements Project area of ​​the park website which will provide project updates and a key place for public comment.

During the extended engagement period until May 1, Parks Canada will be hosting community co-design workshops / meetings and walks. People will be able to comment and give their opinion on the detailed impact assessment of the project, which will be posted on the Impact Assessment Registry of Canada website.

Public engagement revolves around two phases of the project.

The first phase tackles climate change, mitigating floods and erosion, and uncovering failing or decaying infrastructure. It will renovate the beach toilets, replace the station and sanitary lift line, add a pedestrian plaza and promenade pier, downgrade and restore the lower beach parking lot, redevelop the upper parking lot to compensate for the loss of parking and improve traffic, and will move the main canoe / kayak launch area closer to the upper parking lot. Work is expected to begin this fall and end in summer 2022.

Phase two will tackle more detailed ecological restoration, formalize existing trail connections, and add boardwalk and bridge connections. There will be restoration work, tree planting, invasive species removal, habitat creation for species at risk, garbage and contamination removal and cleanup, crossings and passages. for wildlife and trail safety devices and boardwalk bridges. Work is expected to begin in summer 2022 and end in fall 2023.

People can send questions, comments, and meeting requests to [email protected].

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