Government of Canada announces new Rouge National Urban Park education and welcome centre

News release

Parks Canada and Toronto Zoo reach agreement to enhance visitor experiences at the Rouge while supporting the Zoo’s endangered species breeding facilities

August 27, 2019                           Greater Toronto Area                      Parks Canada Agency

Nature is central to our identity as Canadians. For millions of Canadians living in the Greater Toronto Area, Rouge National Urban Park puts nature within easy reach.

Today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Catherine McKenna, and the CEO of the Toronto Zoo, Dolf DeJong, announced a landmark agreement regarding the location of the future Rouge National Urban Park education and welcome centre. The government will also continue to support the Zoo's endangered species breeding facilities.

Minister McKenna and Mr. DeJong were joined for today’s announcement by Members of Parliament Gary Anandasangaree (Scarborough—Rouge Park) and John McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood); John Tory, City of Toronto Mayor; Jennifer McKelvie, City of Toronto Ward 25 Councillor, and Zoo Board member; as well as Indigenous and community partners.

The future Rouge National Urban Park education and welcome centre, which will be built on the lands currently operated as the Zoo’s overflow parking lot 4, will be a learning and orientation facility where students, visitors, and residents can gather and learn about the Rouge’s incredible natural, cultural, agricultural, and Indigenous heritage, as well as about Parks Canada’s places across the country.

In addition, visitors will be able to access a new five-kilometre trail and two visitor areas as of September 23, 2019. The new family-friendly trail, which includes scenic lookouts and rest areas, weaves through marshlands, shaded woodlots and agricultural fields.



“Our parks play such a critical role in shaping our national identity, protecting nature and wildlife, and fighting climate change. Rouge National Urban Park makes connecting to wilderness easy for over seven million Canadians who live in the area. With today’s announcement, it’s clear that the new education and welcome centre will serve as a gathering spot for Greater Toronto Area residents.”

Catherine McKenna,
Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, and Minister responsible for Parks Canada

“This year has held many amazing milestones for Rouge National Urban Park, including the tabling of the park’s first management plan, a significant land transfer bringing the park to nearly 95% complete, and now the location for the park’s flagship Toronto education and welcome area! I want to thank the Toronto Zoo, the City of Toronto, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, our Indigenous partners, and many other stakeholders that were consulted with on this initiative, for making today’s announcement possible.”

Gary Anandasangaree, Member of Parliament for Scarborough—Rouge Park

“I want to thank the federal government for working with us to move forward with this major initiative for Rouge National Urban Park. Today’s announcement is another important step forward for the future of the Rouge National Urban Park and for the ongoing conservation efforts at the Toronto Zoo. It is another example of the ongoing cooperation between governments and our treasured institutions leading to real results for our residents.”

Toronto Mayor John Tory

 “The Toronto Zoo plays a critical role in connecting people to the natural world. Being surrounded by the Rouge National Urban Park, we look forward to the opportunities this new education and welcome centre brings to engage people with our important wildlife conservation initiatives alongside important partners such as Parks Canada. The Blanding’s Turtle head-start breeding and release program is a perfect example of a collaborative success in saving and protecting species found in the Rouge National Urban Park. We look forward to working with Parks Canada to create a world-class conservation precinct in Rouge National Urban Park and to build on our successes with captive breeding and release programs of endangered and at-risk Canadian species like the Blanding’s turtle which are native to the Rouge Valley.”

Dolf DeJong, Chief Executive Officer, Toronto Zoo

Quick facts

  • At nearly 80 km2 in size, Rouge National Urban Park is the largest urban park in North America.

  • Rouge National Urban Park is within a one hour’s drive of 20 per cent of Canada’s population and accessible by public transit, providing unprecedented opportunities for Canadians to connect with nature.

  • The location of the new welcome and education centre is well connected to public transit, trails and is currently home to temporary Parks Canada’s visitor facilities.

  • Since 2014, the Zoo and Parks Canada have released over 200 threatened Blanding’s turtles back into Rouge National Urban Park. Prior to this program, it is thought only seven Blanding’s turtles remained in RNUP. This highly successful partnership to breed and release the turtles will continue until 2022.

  • Rouge National Urban Park, now nearly 95% complete thanks to a land transfer from TRCA earlier this year, is within a one hour’s drive of 20 per cent of Canada’s population and accessible by public transit, providing unprecedented opportunities for Canadians, including many youth and newcomers, to discover and connect with nature.

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Jeffrey Sinibaldi
Public Relations and Communications Officer
Parks Canada, Rouge National Urban Park

Katie Gray
Toronto Zoo

 Sabrina KiM
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Media Relations
Parks Canada Agency

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