Central Park in NYC photo by Jermaine Ee on Unsplash

Uxbridge to host Ontario’s first Urban Provincial Park

The Ontario government is proposing to create the province’s first urban provincial park in the Township of Uxbridge.

This proposed park in the Oak Ridges Moraine would provide opportunities for people and families to enjoy the area’s natural beauty, including hiking and birdwatching, while strengthening the long-term protection and health of local wildlife. Areas regulated as provincial parks can also contribute to scientific research and environmental monitoring, said a provincial statement.

The project was announced by David Piccini, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, and Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance and Member of Provincial Parliament for Pickering—Uxbridge.

First announced in the 2023 budget, the proposed urban park may include up to 532 hectares (1,315 acres) of provincially owned lands. That is 50 per cent larger than New York’s Central Park. The province is also working with the Township of Uxbridge, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, Nature Conservancy of Canada, Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority, The Schad Foundation, the Regional Municipality of Durham and Green Durham Association, to identify the full recreational and protection potential of an urban provincial park in this area. The study area may include the Durham Regional Forest, a 598 hectare (1,477 acres) mixed wood and conifer forest area, owned by the Region of Durham, and a possible 120 hectares (300 acres) from the Township of Uxbridge.

Over the coming months, the government will be conducting site assessments and evaluations to measure the feasibility. These assessments will involve consultation with indigenous communities, the public, local stakeholders, partners and environmental organizations, to help inform the government’s final decision.

Quick Facts

  • The announcement was made in celebration of Earth Day.
  • In 2022, Ontario and conservation partners protected over 390,000 acres of green spaces across the province.
  • The government’s intent to explore the creation of this new protected area in Uxbridge was first referenced in the 2023 Ontario budget: Building a Strong OntarioThe government is also creating Ontario’s first new operating provincial park in 40 years. The location of the new operating park will be announced this spring.
  • Uxbridge is nicknamed the ‘Trail Capital of Canada,’ featuring over 220 kilometres of managed trails that wind through forest, wetlands, meadows and historic villages.
  • The provincially owned properties included in this proposal includes the filming location of the internationally acclaimed series Road to Avonlea, based on the works of Lucy Maud Montgomery.
  • Provincial parks and conservation reserves under the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserve Act protect representative ecosystems, biodiversity and provincially significant elements of Ontario’s natural and cultural heritage, facilitate research and monitoring and provide opportunities for ecologically sustainable outdoor recreation for visitors.
  • Visitation to Ontario’s provincial parks has grown steadily in the last decade, reaching over 12 million visits in 2022.
  • Ontario manages and protects 340 provincial parks (115 operating parks and 225 non-operating parks) and 295 conservation reserves representing over eight per cent of the province’s land and waters.

“Thank you to the Premier, Minister Piccini and Minister Bethlenfalvy for making this vision a reality. These lands are situated on an ecologically important and gorgeous section of the Oak Ridges Moraine. They are near major urban centres in the GTA and perfect for hiking, mountain biking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. I am so proud to be part of the team acting to protect and conserve this unique habitat and greenspace and I am excited for the recreation and tourism benefits this brings to the Township,” said Dave Barton, Mayor of Uxbridge.

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