Government of Canada to protect nature in Ontario

News release

Contributions will support habitat restoration work, ecological connectivity, engagement of Indigenous communities, and access to greenspace for Canadians in Ontario

January 26, 2023                  Toronto,, Ontario                          Parks Canada

Protecting nature is vital to the health and well-being of Canadians, to reverse biodiversity loss, and to fight climate change. That’s why the Government of Canada launched the greatest nature conservation campaign in Canada’s history, with a goal of protecting thirty percent of Canada’s lands and waters by 2030. Protected lands help to guarantee future generations can enjoy the benefits that natural greenspaces provide to their communities. 

Today, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, announced over $8 million to protect and enhance three critical natural spaces in Ontario. These include:

·  More than $3.5 million for the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System. This developing greenspace stretches from the Western edge of Lake Ontario to the Niagara Escarpment. This pilot project, under the Parks Canada National Program for Ecological Corridors, will support the Royal Botanical Gardens of Burlington and Hamilton, Ontario and their partners to protect 2,200 hectares of land, to connect wildlife across a very urbanized landscape.

·  More than $1.05M to better connect The Meadoway to Rouge National Urban Park with new and improved multi-use trails. The Meadoway, led by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), is transforming a hydro corridor in Scarborough into a vibrant 16-kilometre stretch of urban greenspace and meadow habitat that will allow Canadians to travel, in nature, from the heart of downtown Toronto to Rouge National Urban Park via a safe, accessible, and naturalized multi-use trail network.

·  $3.5 million through Nature Conservancy Canada to protect more habitat in areas within Ontario that have rich biodiversity like the Rice Lake Plains, the north shore of Lake Ontario and the Frontenac Arch Biosphere, one of Canada’s most important forest corridors that connects the northern forests of Algonquin Park with the Adirondack Mountains of New York State.

·  The minister also announced $50,000 for the Algonquin to Adirondacks Collaborative, to support a road ecology study to determine wildlife protective measures around Ontario’s busy roadways.

The Government of Canada will continue to work with provinces, territories, municipalities, conservation groups and Indigenous communities to expand the network of protected areas in Canada and ensure Canadians can benefit from the advantages of these protected greenspaces.



“Protecting wildlife and biodiversity is a responsibility we all share. Through proper planning, we can all benefit from the treasured greenspaces near our communities. Investing in green infrastructure, like improving the trail network at Rouge National Urban Park, and facilitating access to greenspaces for millions of Canadians close to where they live, work and play, allows people to connect with nature on a deeper level and helps shape the next generation of nature stewards in Canada.”

The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, 
Minister of Environment and Climat Change and Mnister responsible for Parks Canada

"The Government of Canada continues to invest in nature solutions to climate change by funding programs and on-the-ground initiatives, like ecological corridors, to reach its goal of halting and reversing biodiversity loss. By working toward common goals with a wide array of partners, stakeholders and other levels of government, together, we can achieve a more prosperous future, for wildlife and Canadians, for generations to come."

The Honourable Karina Gould, 
Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and Member of Parliament for Burlington

“The Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System is a voluntary alliance of regional agencies protecting one of Canada’s richest areas for biodiversity. Royal Botanical Gardens and our EcoPark System partners are pleased to work with Parks Canada and local and Indigenous communities on this pilot program. This support will help us advance the management of ecological corridors that are vital for the survival of hundreds of plant and animal species, many of which are endangered.”

Nancy Rowland,
Chief Executive Officer, Royal Botanical Gardens

“This investment will help realize the vital naturalized link between Rouge National Urban Park and downtown Toronto, stitching together more than 15 parks and greenspaces, seven watercourses, tourist destinations including the Toronto Zoo, employment centres, education facilities and transportation hubs. The Federal government support has been critical to leveraging the generous support of the Weston Family Foundation who have been the key funder of this ground-breaking initiative.”

John MacKenzie,
Chief Executive Officer, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority

“The Algonquin to Adirondacks (A2A) region is an interconnected ecosystem of species on the move that have been using this key link in North America's Eastern Wildway for thousands of years. The Eastern Wildway, which stretches from the Great Smoky Mountains of Georgia up to the boreal forests of Ontario and Quebec, reaches a critical junction at the St. Lawrence River between Kingston and Brockville, where the way forward is bisected by highways 401 and 2, and the St. Lawrence Parkway. Finding ways to remove barriers to the movement of species is at the core of our organization's work and, as such, we are pleased that this agreement will advance the cause of ecological connectivity, within the A2A region and across this country.”

Cameron Smith,
Road Ecology Committee Chair, Algonquin to Adirondacks Collaborative

Quick facts

  • Guided by science, Indigenous Knowledge and local perspectives, Canada is committed to conserving 25 percent of lands, freshwater, and oceans by 2025, and 30 percent by 2030.

  • Canada helped lead the world to agree on the monumental Kunming-Montréal Global Biodiversity Framework at the largest ever Conference of the Parties for biodiversity conservation, COP15 in Montréal. The Framework aims to safeguard nature and halt and reverse biodiversity loss, putting nature on a path to recovery by 2050, including the protection of 30 percent of lands and waters by 2030.

  • Since 2015, the Government of Canada has launched the largest nature conservation campaign in Canada’s history backed by investments of $5 billion, with funding coming most notably from the 2018 and 2021 federal budgets. So far, the Government has protected around 300,000 km2 of land, an area more than half the size of Manitoba.

  • Contributions to the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System Ecological Corridor Pilot Project and to the road ecology study are among the first initiatives of this kind funded by the Parks Canada National Program for Ecological Corridors, announced in 2022. Connecting protected and conserved areas allows natural processes to flow and species to move, interact, and find habitat across large landscapes and seascapes.

  • Created in 2015, Rouge National Urban Park is home to around 2,000 species, including 42 federally-listed species at risk as well as many locally rare plants, birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. Since establishment, conservation efforts within the park include the planting of more than 200,000 native trees and shrubs in the Rouge River and Duffins Creek watersheds and the reintroduction of more than 600 threatened baby Blanding’s turtles into the park.

  • At nearly 80 km2 in size, Rouge National Urban Park is the largest urban park in Canada and one of the best protected urban parks in the world. The Rouge protects natural, cultural and agricultural landscapes, which includes large tracts of Class-1 farmland, the rarest and most fertile soil in Canada. The park is connected to both the Greenbelt and Oak Ridges Moraine, providing a seamless protected landscape in Canada’s most populated metropolitan area.

  • Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) is the largest botanical garden in Canada, a National Historic Site, and registered charitable organization with a mandate to bring together people, plants and nature. RBG is serving as the lead organization on behalf of the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System, for the purposes of the pilot project funded by Parks Canada.  

  • The Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System is a collaboration among nine government and not-for-profit agencies that collectively protect nearly 2,200 hectares of open space and nature sanctuary between Cootes Paradise Marsh, Hamilton Harbour, and the Niagara Escarpment.

  • Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) owns and protects land in the heart of the Frontenac Arch Natural Area. New hectares purchased would be left undeveloped for the benefit of nature and would add to NCC’s nature reserve in the Loughborough Wilderness Block. This project comes from NCC’s three-year funding from Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund, including $3.5 million for projects in Ontario.

  • The Algonquin to Adirondacks (A2A) Collaborative is a U.S., Canadian, and First Nations partner organization that works with scientists, policy-makers and a variety of conservation groups to protect and enhance the unique ecological features and functions of the A2A region.

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Kaitlin Power
Press Secretary     
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Media Relations
Parks Canada

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