Region 3 | Media Release

Rouge National Urban Park regional impact study good news, says NFU and NFU-O

The National Farmers Union (NFU) and the National Farmers Union – Ontario (NFU-O) believe any development on the 4,950 acres the Ontario government recently removed from the Greenbelt and the Duffins Rouge Agricultural Preserve (DRAP) is unnecessary, short-sighted, and will have disastrous ripple effects on surrounding natural heritage and agricultural land.

We support Environment and Climate Change Canada’s (ECCC) announcement calling for the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada to work with ECCC and Parks Canada to complete a regional study on the impact of future development on the integrity of land adjacent to and within Rouge National Urban Park, including the DRAP lands slated for development.

The NFU, established in 1969 by an Act of Parliament, works to achieve agricultural policies that ensure dignity and income security for farmers, while protecting and enhancing rural environments for current and future generations. The NFU’s Ontario region, the NFU-O, is an accredited farm organization representing thousands of sustainable farmers in the province.

The regional study requested by ECCC Minister Steven Guilbeault is an important step in laying the groundwork for Ottawa to formally conduct an impact assessment if and when the Ontario Government moves forward with its ill-conceived development proposals on Greenbelt and DRAP lands.

As Parks Canada warned, developing on formerly-protected Greenbelt land threatens “irreversible harm to wildlife, natural ecosystems and agricultural landscapes,” on both developed and surrounding areas. This land includes large tracts of Class 1 and Class 2 farmland – some of the rarest, richest and most fertile land in the country.

The NFU/NFU-O shares Park Canada’s concern that any development will reduce “the viability and functionality of [the region’s] ecosystem and farmland.” This development will accelerate the already staggering loss of 319 acres of farmland per day. We are also troubled by the negative impact paving over this finite land will have on habitat, water and soil health, climate change, and food security in the region and the province.

A majority of Ontarians oppose any development on this land. A recent study has also revealed that opening up the Greenbelt and expanding urban boundaries is entirely unnecessary to meet the province’s goal of building over 2 million homes by 2031.

The NFU/NFU-O is supportive of any government measures that: a) increase existing protections of agricultural and natural heritage lands; b) thwart construction on any land removed from the Greenbelt; and/or c) expand safeguards to any unprotected farmland or ecologically-sensitive areas in danger of development. We are optimistic that Minister Guilbeault’s study will encompass adjacent land currently held by Transport Canada and ideally suited to be included within Rouge National Urban Park.

We commend Minister Guilbeault and the ECCC for proactively initiating a study that will bolster the already substantive evidence that any development within the sensitive Rouge River corridor will only accelerate surface runoff, water and soil pollution, and biodiversity loss. Protecting our remaining natural heritage and agricultural lands is vital to sustaining life for future generations.

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For more information:

Max Hansgen, President: 613-464-1251,

Jenn Pfenning, NFU President: 519-502-2582,


For further reading:

‘Irreversible harm to wildlife’: Proposed Greenbelt changes threaten Rouge National Urban Park, says Parks Canada 

Taking Durham land out of Greenbelt could cause ‘irreversible damage,’ says Parks Canada in blunt warning 

Review Of Existing Housing Unit Capacity Identified In Municipal Land Needs Assessments Prepared For Upper- And Single-Tier Municipalities In The Greater Golden Horseshoe, Prepared for: The Alliance for a Liveable Ontario, By: Kevin Eby, RPP, PLE,  February 2023

Current Issues – Rouge River Watershed