ENVI Committee Report
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On behalf of the Government of Canada, we would like to thank the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development (the Committee) for its study and subsequent report on Urban Conservation Practices in Canada.
The Committee’s work, as well as the presentations and written submissions from those who participated in the study, highlighted the importance of natural green spaces in and around urban centres, the substantial benefits arising from the ecosystem services they provide, and their role in connecting Canadians to nature. The first three recommendations from the Committee, as well as Recommendations 5 and 6, will provide important input into the National Conservation Plan. As stated in Economic Action Plan 2013, further details on the National Conservation Plan will be announced in the coming year.
As Canadians become increasingly urbanized—the total area of urban land in Canada almost doubled between 1971 and 2001—conservation in urban areas becomes more important in order to improve human health and economic benefits to Canadians, and to minimize habitat loss and fragmentation. Urban conservation, which includes the connection of key habitats within urban areas and neighbouring natural areas, is particularly important given that urban areas are often situated in places that are especially rich in biodiversity.
The Government recognizes that provinces, territories, and municipalities hold the main jurisdictional powers to promote and advance conservation objectives in urban areas. Their contribution to conservation, underlined throughout the Committee’s study, is invaluable.
Notwithstanding the responsibility of other jurisdictions for urban conservation, the Government of Canada promotes responsible stewardship of federal lands and facilities located in urban areas, as suggested by the Committee’s fourth recommendation. Theme IV of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy, Shrinking the Environmental Footprint – Beginning with Government, encourages the sound stewardship of government assets by government departments and agencies.
The Government is also leading work on the establishment of the Rouge National Urban Park, which will significantly enhance the Government's reach with urban Canadians as almost 20 percent of the Canadian population lives within a one‑hour drive of the park. The Rouge National Urban Park will also provide an urban window on Canada's protected places, offering memorable experiences and educational programs and activities which introduce urban Canadians to other national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas.
The Government also delivers other programs that target urban Canadians, such as Parks Canada's Learn to Camp program, or that reach out to Canadians where they live, such as the My Parks Pass program. Collaborative work between Parks Canada and organizations located in, or with considerable reach into major urban centres, such as the Vancouver Aquarium, the Royal Ontario Museum, Canadian Geographic, and the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, is also ongoing. Other programs and initiatives, such as the Natural Areas Conservation Program, in which the Government invested $225 million in 2007, and an additional $20 million through Economic Action Plan 2013, the Habitat Stewardship Program, the Ecological Gifts Program, the EcoAction Community Funding Program, can enhance conservation efforts across Canada through partnerships.
With regard to the Committee’s final recommendation, since 2007, the Government of Canada has invested over $2 billion towards over 1,400 green infrastructure projects across Canada through a number of targeted programs as part of Building Canada and the Economic Action Plan. Following an extensive engagement process with partners and stakeholders that was completed in September 2012, Economic Action Plan 2013 announced the New Building Canada Plan, which includes $53 billion in new and existing funding for provincial, territorial and municipal infrastructure over 10 years, beginning in 2014‑15. Green infrastructure projects will continue to be eligible under the New Building Canada Plan.
Once again, we would like to thank the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development for its work on urban conservation practices in Canada, as well as all those who provided input to the Committee’s study.