Ontario Plans to Build Its First Urban Provincial Park in Uxbridge
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Ontario Plans to Build Its First Urban Provincial Park in Uxbridge

The Ontario government has announced plans to create the province’s first urban provincial park in the Township of Uxbridge. This new 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 local wildlife’s long-term protection and health. The park would cover up to 532 hectares (1,315 acres) of provincially owned lands, making it 50% larger than New York’s Central Park.

The proposal has received support from various stakeholders, including the 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. The government is also working with the Township of Uxbridge to identify the full recreational and protection potential of a provincial urban park in the area, which may include the Durham Regional Forest, a 598-hectare mixed wood and conifer forest area owned by the Region of Durham, and a possible 120 hectares (300 acres) from the Township of Uxbridge.

“Creating the province’s first urban provincial park in Uxbridge would be a major step forward for conservation and biodiversity protection in Ontario. said David Piccini, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. Once completed, it will provide access to more recreational opportunities for families while strengthening the protection and health of local wildlife.

The township of Uxbridge, was named after Uxbridge, England, which was derived from the name Wixan’s Bridge. The community has a population of approximately 21,000 and was first settled by Quakers in 1806 who arrived from Catawissa, Pennsylvania.

Although Uxbridge may not be a town that is familiar to many Canadians, it has a special place in Hollywood’s heart. The town has been a popular location for big-budget movies, award-winning TV series, and iconic Canadian shows. Hollywood has found Uxbridge to be an ideal location due to its picturesque landscapes, charming small-town atmosphere, and proximity to Toronto.

Some of the most notable productions that have been filmed in Uxbridge include “Road to Avonlea,” “The Long Kiss Goodnight,” “Undercover Brother,” “Men With Brooms,” “A History of Violence,” “Awake,” and the hit comedy series “Schitt’s Creek.” The town’s scenic beauty has made it a favorite among filmmakers, who appreciate the natural beauty of the area and its unique character. With the creation of the proposed urban provincial park, Uxbridge is expected to become an even more popular destination for filmmakers and tourists alike, adding to the town’s already rich cultural legacy.

While the proposal to build a new Urban Provincial Park has received a lot of support, some are questioning the government’s motives. The announcement of the provincial urban park comes on the heels of the controversial Bill 23, known as the More Homes Built Faster Act, which was introduced in December 2022. The bill aims to build 1.5 million homes over the next 10 years, including opening up 7,400 acres of protected Greenbelt to developers that would require the construction of new highways with the potential to disrupt farm and agriculture land. The bill drew protests from environmentalists, but it also garnered support as Ontario, like every other province in Canada, is facing a housing crisis, which is exacerbated on Indigenous reserves.

The creation of the provincial urban park in Uxbridge highlights the fine balance between the need for housing and the preservation of natural spaces. The government must continue to find ways to address the housing crisis while protecting Ontario’s natural environment and biodiversity. By exploring the creation of Ontario’s first urban provincial park, the government will be under a microscope from its creation to completion.

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