- Stephen Lecce, MPP
Ontario Creating Urban Provincial Park in Uxbridge
Updated: Apr 24
UXBRIDGE — The Ontario government is protecting southern Ontario’s green spaces by creating 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.
“I’m thrilled to be making today’s announcement on Earth Day,” said David Piccini, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. “Creating the province’s first urban provincial park in Uxbridge would be a major step forward for conservation and biodiversity protection in Ontario. We look forward to working with the public and local stakeholders to make this vision a reality for residents and visitors to get out and enjoy nature near this rapidly growing region.”
“Opening a new provincial park in Uxbridge would give families and people in the community new ways to enjoy the great outdoors all year around,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance and Member of Provincial Parliament for Pickering—Uxbridge. “A strong Ontario includes a strong provincial park system, made up of the most beautiful and scenic parts of the province, that will be enjoyed for many generations to come.”
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 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.
By exploring the creation of Ontario’s first urban provincial park, the government is making progress on its commitments to ensure access to recreational opportunities for families to enjoy, while boosting local tourism and strengthening the protection and health of local wildlife and the environment.
The Ontario government’s 2023 budget: Building a Strong Ontario, is helping to drive economic growth, attract jobs and investments, and build key infrastructure projects faster. The government’s plan is also training skilled workers to fill in-demand jobs, keeping costs down for those who need it the most, and providing better services for the people of Ontario.
Today's announcement is made in celebration of Earth Day, as the government works with partners and conservation leaders to protect more natural, healthy spaces and conserve Ontario's biodiversity for generations to come.
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 Ontario. The 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."
- Dave Barton Mayor of Uxbridge
"Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) is thrilled about the Ontario government’s plan to explore the creation of a provincial park in Uxbridge. Greater protections for, and investments in, provincially owned green space in Uxbridge supports our Trail Strategy by complementing and connecting existing trail networks on TRCA and other publicly owned lands nearby. The designation of a provincial park will also aid conservation and scientific work to protect our ecosystems and the communities we serve. TRCA looks forward to continuing to work with our partners to make this new provincial park in Uxbridge a success."
- John MacKenzie Chief Executive Officer, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority
"The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) supports Ontario's initiative to explore the creation of a new provincial park in Uxbridge. A new urban park will provide even more opportunities for Ontarians to connect with nature. In the face of rapid biodiversity loss and climate change, nature is our ally. There is no solution to either without nature conservation. At NCC, we believe when nature thrives, we all thrive."
- Mike Hendren Regional Vice-President, Ontario Region, Nature Conservancy of Canada
Read the 2023 Ontario budget: Building a Strong Ontario
Find a provincial park or conservation reserve near you