DAN CEARNS, The Standard
UXBRIDGE: The Ontario provincial government announced their plans to create an urban provincial park in Uxbridge on Saturday, April 22nd.
"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," an Ontario government press release stated.
However, the press release also noted this project is not a done deal just yet. "Over the coming months, the government will be conducting site assessments and evaluations to measure the feasibility of creating an urban provincial park in Uxbridge. These assessments will involve consultation with Indigenous communities, the public, local stakeholders, partners and environmental organizations, to help inform the government's final decision."
MPP Peter Bethlenfalvy discussed why the provincial government is taking on this project. "Our government recognizes the benefits of spending time in fresh air and outdoors. That is why we are providing families and people here in Pickering-Uxbridge, and across the province, with new ways to enjoy the great outdoors all year long. Uxbridge is situated on a beautiful valley on the northern slope of the Oak Ridges Moraine. Making it the perfect home for a new, protected provincial area."
David Piccini, the Ontario Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, said the park may include "a number of properties," explaining the province is currently working with potential partners on this project. "The combined provincial properties would have a total area of 1,315 acres. To give you an idea of how large that is, that is one and a half times the size of Central Park in New York City," he added.
The province is also exploring conversations with potential partners to add to that size.
Regional Chair John Henry said everyone who has contributed to this project "are making a difference." Adding, "It's not every day you get to go to an event where your grandchildren will be able to say that my parents had something to do with an event like this."
MPP Bethlenfalvy explained he sees this project as "another piece of building a strong Ontario."
Responding to a question from The Standard about the potential tourism benefits of this new park, Uxbridge Mayor Dave Barton stressed the Township's 'Trail Capital of Canada' designation.
"This is really close to our downtown, and I think this will make a remarkable difference to make the trails we love have a larger economic impact."
For more information on this project, and to share your feedback in a survey, go online to www.uxbridge.ca/en/explore-and-play/ubridge-urban-provincial-park.aspx.