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March 23, 2001
Federal government commended for protecting the Oak Ridges Moraine
City of Toronto Councillor David Miller applauds the federal government for
taking a crucial leadership role in creating a major urban park on the Oak
Ridges Moraine. Ottawa announced plans today to donate 3,025 hectares (7,562
acres) of land -- almost 20 times the size of High Park -- on the moraine to
link up with the Rouge Valley Park system. The donation further expands the
largest park in an urban area in North America and forever protects these lands
from future development.

"It took thousands of years to create the unique geographical features of the
Oak Ridges Moraine," said Miller, Chair of Toronto's Oak Ridges Moraine
Steering Committee. "We must act now to conserve this vital eco-system for now
and future generations."

Urban development on the moraine would interfere with its ability to filter
rain and snow through its underground aquifers and recharge the 65 rivers and
streams flowing through it. It would also affect the overall health and quality
of life in the Greater Toronto Area including water quality.

Even though the moraine is one of the last continuous greenbelts in southern
Ontario -- it is still 30 per cent forested -- it is currently under intense
development pressure. Any loss of this natural habitat would be devastating to
rare plant and animal species depending on the moraine for protection. The
moraine is one of the last refuges for forest birds in all of southern Ontario
and is part of migratory bird routes.

"We must all work together with the federal, provincial and municipal
governments to enact a complete development ban on this remarkable treasure of
streams, rivers, woodlands, wetlands, kettle lakes and rare species of flora
and fauna," said Miller. "This marks a major step towards preserving our
natural heritage from unchecked urban sprawl."

The land donated today by the federal government is an important connection in
the Noah (Niagara, Oak Ridges Moraine, Algonquin to the Adirondacks) system
linking the Niagara Escarpment to the Algonquin to the Adirondacks wildlife
corridors through the Oak Ridges Moraine.

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