Sustainability initiatives

Rouge National Urban Park

Parks Canada is committed to conserving the lands in Rouge National Urban Park (RNUP) to be enjoyed by Canadians and visitors from around the world for generations to come. Protected areas like the Rouge play a key role in reducing the effects of climate change. As we work towards completing the establishment of RNUP, a variety of sustainability initiatives are taking place throughout the park and are being built into its infrastructure. Below are just some of the ways that Parks Canada is leading the way in sustainable park management in RNUP.

Restoration Projects

Parks Canada has completed 64 ecological, restoration, and farmland enhancement projects in RNUP since 2015. Check out the conservation section on our website to read more about tree planting, our Blanding’s turtle reintroduction program, wetland restoration, and more important initiatives helping to protect the Rouge’s natural and cultural heritage for generations to come.

Free Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

In August 2020, Parks Canada announced that 28 sites across the country now have Tesla donated electric vehicle charging stations available for visitors to use including RNUP. Visitors can recharge with a refreshing hike in the national urban park while their vehicle recharges too. These chargers allow Parks Canada to better serve visitors with electric vehicles and are part of the Agency’s ongoing work in greening operations and fighting climate change. Find both Tesla and J-1772 chargers at Bob Hunter Memorial Park and the Reesor Road Day Use Area in RNUP.

Trail Building

Parks Canada is undertaking several trail building projects to connect Lake Ontario with the Oak Ridges Moraine creating a fully connected network of trails throughout the park. Sustainability is top of mind when building these new trails. Trails bordering agricultural fields will have a planted buffer, which will provide shade and ecosystem services to the surrounding farm fields as the years go by. When building, staff lay down clear stone in areas that are prone to being wet. This allows water to flow under the trail, therefore not washing it out. It also decreases maintenance costs and the wasting of trail material, which ultimately lets the trail work with nature.

One of the newest trails being added to the RNUP network will also feature two boardwalks made of mostly fiberglass. Fiberglass is a very durable plastic mixed with glass that won’t break down into micro-plastics. There are many more benefits as well. The substructure will last over 100 years. They will withstand extreme heat and are fire retardant. They can also be placed in water without leaching. These fiberglass boardwalks are a first in Parks Canada history and our newest green initiative.

Hosting Events

Parks Canada incorporates a variety of waste reduction and diversion strategies into events in RNUP. In-park events always incorporate the use of compostable/bio-degradable serving utensils and napkins when food is being offered. We encourage public transit and shuttle bus transportation options to events. We have also reduced the need for gas-powered generators by investing in and informing designs for purpose-build infrastructure throughout the park. This will allow for outdoor electrical servicing, including an outdoor electrical post at Bob Hunter Memorial Park and electrical outlets at the picnic shelter at our Black Walnut Day Use Area near Stouffville.

Day Use Areas

As Parks Canada works towards building and upgrading day use areas in Rouge National Urban Park, a variety of sustainable initiatives have been incorporated. Bike racks and repair stations have been installed at two new day use areas to promote active transportation to the park and to compliment new multi-use trails. Wildlife-proof garbage receptacles have been installed north of Steeles Avenue to ensure waste is disposed of properly and not ingested by wildlife. The security lighting at all of our northern parking lots are also solar-powered. Additionally, solar-powered charging stations for electronic devices have also been installed at the Glen Rouge Campground.

Clear Your Gear Fishing Line Recycling Program

Do you fish in Rouge National Urban Park? Then check out the latest recycling program to reduce litter in aquatic habitats!

Launched in the summer of 2021, the new Clear Your Gear recycling program provides receptacles in common fishing areas of Rouge Beach where fishing line can be recycled and diverted from landfills.

Once collected and sorted, the fishing line is then sent to a recycling facility where it is transformed into an underwater fish habitat structure made out of the recycled fishing line and other post-consumer materials such as milk cartons and water bottles.

In 2021 alone, an estimated 7 km of fishing line was collected from the Clear Your Gear receptacles in the park and we hope to build on this early success as visitors get in the habit of using them.

Visitors are encouraged to sort out as much leaf litter and natural debris out of the line as they can, as well as remove any hooks, lures, sinkers, and bobbers. Anglers are also encouraged to collect used fishing line at home instead of throwing it out, and bring as much as they can to the receptacles for proper disposal.

We thank you for doing your part to help keep Rouge Beach and Marsh clean and clear of debris!

Terracycle Cigarette Butt Recycling

Did you know that cigarette butts are the most significant contributor to plastic litter worldwide? They also have the added impact of leaching hazardous metals and toxins into soils and waterways. In an effort to protect the Rouge watershed, Parks Canada is piloting a cigarette butt recycling program in Rouge National Urban Park – the first of its kind across the Agency!

To start, Parks Canada has installed cigarette butt recycling receptacles in the following locations:

  • 19th Avenue parking lot
  • Reesor Road Day-Use Area
  • Glen Eagles Vista trailhead (Twyn Rivers)
  • South Mast trailhead (Glen Rouge)
  • Rouge Beach
  • Finch Meander Area

To recycle, place extinguished cigarettes into the hole at the top of the recycling receptacle. The following can all be recycled in the designated receptacles: extinguished cigarettes, cigarette filters, cigar stubs, outer plastic packaging, inner foil packaging, rolling paper, and ash.

*Note that e-cigarettes should not be placed into these receptacles as they cannot be recycled and could contaminate the pieces that are recyclable. Please continue to recycle cardboard packaging in designated paper recycling boxes.

Once collected, cigarette waste is sent to Terracycle for recycling. Waste is sorted and separated – ash and tobacco composted, paper recycled, and leftover plastics transformed into raw plastic lumber planks used to manufacture goods like benches and picnic tables. Not only is waste diverted from sensitive areas, it’s also made into something useful! We thank you for your participation in the program and appreciate all your efforts to help keep the lands and waters in Rouge National Urban Park clean!

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