Amendment to Ontario Regulation 316/07 under the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act, 2006 to create a recreational class provincial park in the Township of Uxbridge

ERO number
019-7733
Notice type
Regulation
Act
Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act, 2006
Posted by
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Notice stage
Decision
Decision posted
Comment period
October 19, 2023 - December 3, 2023 (45 days) Closed
Last updated

This consultation was open from:
October 19, 2023
to December 3, 2023

Decision summary

We have created Uxbridge Urban Provincial Park through an amendment to O.Reg. 316/07 under the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act, 2006. This will strengthen the long-term protection of biodiversity and important habitats within the park while providing opportunities for visitors to enjoy the area’s natural beauty.

Decision details

We are making progress on our commitment to protect more natural areas and sensitive spaces. By promoting the importance of healthy green spaces, we are also supporting physical and mental wellbeing by providing families with more opportunities to get outside and enjoy the outdoors within our world-class provincial park system. 

Ontario Regulation 316/07: Designation and Classification of Provincial Parks under the Provincial Park and Conservation Reserves Act, 2006 was amended to create Uxbridge Urban Provincial Park. The amended regulation comes into effect on July 1, 2024.

Uxbridge Urban Provincial Park is a 532-hectare operating, recreational class park, located in the Township of Uxbridge, 25 kilometers east of Newmarket and 50 kilometers northeast of Toronto, within the areas of the Williams Treaties (1923) and the Gunshot Treaty (Johnson-Butler Purchase) of 1787-1788.

This park will provide opportunities for the public to enjoy the area’s natural beauty, including hiking and other ecologically sustainable recreation activities, while strengthening the long-term protection of biodiversity and important habitat for species at risk.

Many of the recreational uses currently taking place are likely able to continue. Uses will be determined through the subsequent park management planning processes which would include Indigenous and public consultation. Industrial and some commercial uses would be restricted in these areas.

Comments received

Through the registry

33

By email

16

By mail

0
View comments submitted through the registry

Effects of consultation

Public and Indigenous consultation opportunities were provided for 45 days, from October 19, 2023, to December 3, 2023. Consultation included:

  • a regulation proposal notice, No. 019-7733, was posted on the Environmental Registry of Ontario (ERO),
  • early awareness notification letter sent to appropriate Indigenous communities
  • direct mailing (mail and email) to adjacent landowners, provincial and local stakeholder groups and other identified organizations and individuals on the project mailing list
  • social media posts on Environment Ontario and Ontario Parks social media channels and shared by Uxbridge Partners Network organization’s social media channels,
  • an open house was held to share information about the proposal and to discuss the interests and concerns of attendees
  • the ERO proposal notice was updated to include the open house information displays, as requested by members of the public
  • the Township of Uxbridge
    • provided notice in the Uxbridge Cosmos (newspaper) on multiple dates regarding the upcoming open house and provided a link to the online consultation website.
    • posted the public notice at the Uxbridge Town Hall and sent the notice to the public library and public pool for posting
  • a Youth Summit was held for grade 11 and 12 students from Uxbridge Secondary School Outdoor Education program

As a result of these consultation efforts, the Ministry received a total of 120 responses, including duplicates. Comments received were through the ERO, by email (16) and phone (3), at the open house (66) and from presentations given (2). Comments included:

  • 4 from Indigenous communities,
  • 102 from the public, and
  • 12 from organizations

Overall, the proposal was received favourably by Indigenous communities, stakeholders and the public.

Of the responses received, 43% commented on the regulation amendment proposal specifically; a large majority of the comments (90%) were supportive of establishing the park. 

Most of the responses (57%) received on the regulation amendment proposal were primarily related to management planning (e.g., what uses may or may not take place within the future park). A very small number of comments received did not seem to express an opinion. None of these comments were considered when making the decision on establishing the provincial park since the comments were out of scope. Management planning related comments will be considered during the upcoming management planning for this park.

Concerns/interests raised include:

  • impact on ecological integrity (i.e., support for protection)
  • impacts to the local community (e.g., traffic, impact on services)
  • ​impacts to adjacent landowners
  • communication regarding the project
    • requests made for continued engagement and collaboration with local residents, stakeholders and interest groups.
  • ensuring meaningful engagement with Indigenous communities during the planning for the park  

 Although not related to the regulation amendment proposal, the following management planning interests were expressed:

  • ensuring Indigenous history and perspectives are respected and integrated into the development, management plan and educational programing for the park
  • ensure that development of the park and its operation keeps ecological integrity, hydrology and connectivity a top priority,
  • consider accessibility and support ecologically sustainable multi-use recreation

Comments regarding permitted uses will be considered during management planning.

There was a very clear message communicated during the consultation process that local individuals (including adjacent landowners) would like to be kept well up to date regarding the project.

If you would like to be involved in the management planning process for Uxbridge Urban Provincial Park, or have any other questions, please contact Kendra Couling, A/Senior Park Planner at planning.sez@ontario.ca.

Ministry’s response to topics raised

Overall, most of the comments received regarding the regulation amendment were interested in the protection of Uxbridge Urban Provincial Park and were supportive of the proposal. Below is the ministry’s response to other concerns and interests that were raised:

Impacts to the local community and adjacent landowners

Ontario Parks is committed to being part of the communities where our provincial parks are located as well as being a good neighbour to adjacent private landowners. There are many examples across the province where Ontario Parks works very closely with community groups and individuals for the common good of the area. Ontario Parks would be pleased to consider ideas for the park, to work together with the communities and address any potential concerns raised regarding the park and park operations.

Indigenous communities

Ontario respects Aboriginal and treaty rights recognized and affirmed by Section 35 of Canada’s Constitution Act, 1982, and is committed to meeting its constitutional obligations in respect of Indigenous peoples.

Ontario Parks is eager to work with interested Indigenous communities to learn of their relationship with the lands within and surrounding Uxbridge Urban Provincial Park, including any historic or current use of, or future interest in, the park for the exercise of Aboriginal or treaty rights.

Through collaborative discussions, our hope is to share information and better integrate Indigenous knowledge, rights, values, and interests into the development and planning for this park.

Next involvement opportunity: management planning

Management planning is the next step for Uxbridge Urban Provincial Park. Management planning is a complex and multi-stage process where the known values (e.g., provincially rare sand barren) in the park are considered alongside the pressures on those values (e.g., unauthorized trail creation).

We are pleased to let interested parties know that the ministry has begun management planning for Uxbridge Urban Provincial Park. At this time, background information documents can be viewed here on the ERO. Please follow the link to review the Background Information Document and to provide any comments.

Supporting materials

View materials in person

Some supporting materials may not be available online. If this is the case, you can request to view the materials in person.

Get in touch with the office listed below to find out if materials are available.

Ontario Parks - Southeast Parks Zone
Address

300 Water Street
4th Floor North
Peterborough, ON
K9J 3C7
Canada

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Original proposal

ERO number
019-7733
Notice type
Regulation
Act
Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act, 2006
Posted by
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Proposal posted

Comment period

October 19, 2023 - December 3, 2023 (45 days)

Proposal details

Ontario is making progress on its commitment to provide families with more opportunities to get outside and enjoy the outdoors, including exploring opportunities to improve access to greenspaces within our world-class provincial park system throughout the province.

To support this commitment, we surveyed the people of Ontario about:

  • our proposal to create Ontario's first urban provincial park near Uxbridge
  • what people thought about urban provincial parks, in general.

We received an overwhelming 4200 responses, and approximately 75% support creating an urban provincial park in the Township of Uxbridge.

Overview of the proposed provincial park

As a next step, we are proposing to create Ontario’s first urban provincial park (recreational class) in the Township of Uxbridge.

This proposed provincial park in the Oak Ridges Moraine would include provincially owned properties, totalling up to approximately 532 hectares (1,315 acres). The proposed park is 25 kilometers east of Newmarket and 50 kilometers northeast of Toronto (see map). The proposed park would include multiple, disconnected parcels of land.

This proposed park will provide opportunities for the public to enjoy the area’s natural beauty, including hiking and other sustainable activities, while strengthening the long-term protection of biodiversity and important habitat for species at risk.

If regulated under the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act, 2006 (PPCRA), the provincial park could:

  • provide the Township of Uxbridge and surrounding communities with more opportunities to benefit from natural spaces close to home
  • help protect vulnerable ecosystems and promote biodiversity in southern Ontario’s greenspaces.

Establishing and classifying Ontario's provincial parks

Ontario’s provincial parks are established and regulated under the PPCRA. These spaces:

  • protect sensitive and important places
  • allow visitors to participate in environmentally responsible activities
  • provide opportunities for visitors to increase their knowledge and appreciation of Ontario’s natural and cultural heritage
  • allow for research to take place

Provincial parks are also assigned one of the following classifications:

  • wilderness
  • nature reserve
  • cultural heritage
  • natural environment
  • waterway
  • recreational

The park classification system provides a structured approach to how parks are designed, planned, and managed. Different classes of parks contribute differently to the protected area system as identified in the PPCRA.

We are proposing that the new provincial park in the Township of Uxbridge be regulated as a recreational class park to provide a wide variety of compatible outdoor recreation opportunities in natural surroundings.

Proposed regulation change to protect lands in the Township of Uxbridge

In order to create this provincial park, we are proposing to amend Ontario Regulation 316/07: Designation and Classification of Provincial Parks under the PPCRA. The amendment will add a new schedule that will:

  • list the provincial park’s name, classification and size
  • describe where it is found

The sites meet necessary criteria for inclusion in Ontario’s protected areas system and we want to regulate them as a provincial park. While some areas have a higher level of disturbance, the 5 ecological criteria were evaluated and the sites:

  • include several unique types of natural spaces that need protection
  • contain important wetland areas and older-growth forest in good condition
  • contribute to watershed protection and connectivity of the greater landscape
  • contain significant features such as species at risk and a provincially significant Area of Natural and Scientific Interest

If the lands are regulated as provincial park, many of the recreational uses currently taking place in the surrounding area would be able to continue. Uses will be determined through subsequent management planning processes which would include public and Indigenous consultation. Industrial and some commercial uses would be restricted in these areas.

At the same time, we are asking for suggestions on what to name the provincial park if a decision is made to move forward with the regulation amendment. Send your name ideas to the individual listed below.

Other information

To identify the full recreational and protection potential of an urban provincial park in this area, the province is working with:

  • Township of Uxbridge
  • Toronto and Region Conservation Authority
  • Nature Conservancy of Canada
  • Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority
  • Schad Foundation
  • Regional Municipality of Durham
  • Green Durham Association

The province will continue to work closely with the Indigenous communities regarding this proposal.

Regulatory impact analysis

There are no costs to regulated stakeholders and benefits to the people of Ontario and the environment are significant, including permanent protection of sensitive habitat and the enabling of environmentally sustainable land uses and recreational activities to continue.

There are no regulated stakeholders associated with this proposal and as such, they will not be subject to any financial costs.

Amending Ontario Regulation 316/07: Designation and Classification of Provincial Parks is the only way to meet the objective of creating the 532 hectare provincial park.

Other opportunities for public consultation

Direct notification of the project has been sent to Indigenous communities, stakeholders and adjacent landowners.

Comment

Commenting is now closed.

This consultation was open from October 19, 2023
to December 3, 2023

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