‘Time has come’ for Rouge national park

Scarborough’s backyard, just a quick drive from Toronto’s skyscrapers, could soon be Canada’s first true urban national park.

The Conservative Party, if re-elected on May 2, would establish a new national park in the Rouge Valley, according to its campaign platform.

“Its time has come,” said Ron Dewell, acting general manager of the Rouge Park Alliance. “Many cities have a piece of the [current] park and it has run its course.”

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The 47-square-kilometre forested area is looked after by several municipal governments, including Toronto, Markham, Richmond Hill and Whitchurch-Stouffville.

Scarborough-Rouge River Conservative candidate Marlene Gallyot said the park would boost the prominence of the riding.

“It would be more recognition for Scarborough-Rouge River,” she said. “It would bring in a lot more tourism and hopefully encourage foreign investors to come to the area.”

A national park would create more jobs for the area, Gallyot added.

Rouge Park runs from the edge of Lake Ontario in the south to the Oak Ridges Moraine just north of Richmond Hill.

Park officials plan to rework its trail system. The formation of a national park would help with funding the proposed changes, Dewell said.