Reasons to Love Toronto: No. 13, because there’s a national park in the middle of Scarborough
Stories of vanishing ecosystems and endangered species are such a grimly familiar refrain, it’s a spirit-lifting relief when celebratory news arrives. Especially in your own backyard, and especially from a federal government not typically given to progressive environmental policies. In the next two years, one of the GTA’s best-kept secrets, the 47-kilometre-square Rouge Park, sandwiched between Scarborough and Pickering, will become the country’s first urban national park. Environmentalists and politicians, including Scarborough councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker, have battled developers for decades to protect the sensitive wetlands, 450-million-year-old shale, rare Carolinian forest and fauna (225 different bird species, and snapping turtles!) that reside in the Rouge. The new designation means the wilderness will now be protected from development in perpetuity. And it will also be in the hands of Parks Canada, which has a much larger budget for trail maintenance and wildlife preservation. Picture the majesty of Algonquin combined with the convenience of Central Park. In other words, the first national park to which you can take public transit (avoid peak times if you’re carrying your kayak).