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e-4593 (Environment)

Initiated by P. Brian Skerrett from Guelph, Ontario

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the House of Commons in Parliament assembled

  • Guelph City Council has approved the boundaries for a Heritage Conservation District on parts of the former Ontario Reformatory grounds;
  • This 108-hectare property is part of an ecosystem that protects biodiversity, supports watershed resilience to climate change and connects people to nature through education and stewardship;
  • The site includes an abundance of Natural Heritage features in harmony with Cultural Heritage elements that have connected people to nature for a century;
  • Recognizing the history of Indigenous incarceration on this site provides a path to reconciliation and healing by exemplifying the harm done to Indigenous communities by the Canadian justice system;
  • This site would be a hub providing valuable connectivity to nearby and distant wetlands and river systems;
  • The site has been identified as surplus by the Province of Ontario;
  • The site is adjacent to the Eramosa River, a major tributary of the Grand River designated as one of the Canadian Heritage River Systems by Parks Canada in 1994;
  • The site is adjacent to an identified First Nations archeological site dating back to 8,500 BCE;
  • We recognize after the world-wide Covid pandemic the irreplaceable value of parks, nature, and open space.
We, the undersigned, citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the House of Commons in Parliament assembled to direct Parks Canada to work with the appropriate landowners, stakeholders, governments and First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples to create a National Urban Park on the site of Guelph’s proposed Ontario Reformatory Heritage Conservation District.

Response by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable STEVEN GUILBEAULT

Expanding Canadians’ access to nature is a priority for the Government of Canada, as communicated in the Speech from the Throne and in Budget 2021 and reaffirmed in the Minister’s mandate letter of December 2021. The 2021 federal budget committed to the creation of up to six national urban parks and Parks Canada has begun work at several candidate sites to consider their potential as national urban parks. Collaborative work is underway in Greater Victoria, British Columbia; the Edmonton region, Alberta; the Saskatoon region, Saskatchewan; Winnipeg, Manitoba; Windsor, Ontario; and Halifax, Nova Scotia. Parks Canada is also exploring options for a national urban park in the Greater Montreal Region, QC.  At this time, the National Urban Parks Program is focused on advancing these active candidate sites and not on considering new candidate sites.

Parks Canada’s National Urban Parks Program has three core objectives: the conservation of nature, connecting people with nature, and advancing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. Each national urban park will contribute to these objectives in ways that reflect the unique local context. New national urban parks will help protect biodiversity, support climate resilience, connect people to nature, improve mental health and wellness, promote cultural heritage, and increase social inclusion. They will also provide opportunities to support reconciliation with Indigenous populations in urban centres.

The Minister’s December 2021 mandate letter expanded the program with a commitment of up to 15 national urban parks by 2030. Key considerations for identifying additional candidate sites include a site’s alignment with the core elements of the national urban parks program; (the site’s potential for protecting nature, connecting Canadians with nature, and advancing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples). Promising candidate sites will have strong connections with all three elements. The creation of any national urban park is a deeply collaborative process, and Parks Canada will also consider the support or involvement by municipal governments, Indigenous leaders and organizations, provincial governments, and other partners.

Parks Canada has noted the interest in the proposed Ontario Reformatory Heritage Conservation District in Guelph as a site for a national urban park.





Open for signature
September 20, 2023, at 2:54 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
January 18, 2024, at 2:54 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Lloyd Longfield (Guelph)
January 31, 2024 (Petition No. 441-02042)
Government response tabled
March 18, 2024
Photo - Lloyd Longfield
Liberal Caucus