The federal government will consider including an expanse of land stretching from Lake Ontario to the Oak Ridges Moraine in a new national park, says the chair of the Rouge Park Alliance.
The revelation, made last Friday at an Alliance meeting, is good news for park advocates, who have long contended that the protected land should connect the lakeshore with the moraine.
"That would replicate the old carrying trail used by first nations as a route for trapping and trade, and it would connect with the trails in the Oak Ridges," said Alliance chair Alan Wells.
Transport Canada must still do a study on 5,000 acres of land it owns in Markham, he said, but that parcel could ultimately be signed over to the park.
However, Parks Canada won't be looking at other federal land in north Pickering, which was expropriated in the 1970s to build an airport, he said.
The government also won't expropriate private properties, including some farms, that currently sit in the Rouge Valley.
Earlier this month, Environment Minister Peter Kent said the boundaries of the park would likely be roughed out by the fall. After that, it could take some time to assemble the land. The government is to hold community consultations in the next few months.
The area also contains roads, hydro corridors and other infrastructure that typically isn't allowed in national parks, which means the federal government may have to pass an act to grant it an exception, Mr. Wells said.
Also Friday, the Alliance approved a plan for trails to be built in the park and referred it to Parks Canada.
The valley of the Rouge River is a long strip of parkland that forms Toronto's eastern boundary.