St. John's, Ottawa announce national urban park for capital city

From left: Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault, Liberal MP Joanne Thompson, St. John's Mayor Danny Breen, Newfoundland and Labrador Environment Minister Bernard Davis and St. John's East-Quidi Vidi MHA John Abbott announced a commitment to explore creating a national urban park in the city on Monday.
From left, federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault, Liberal MP Joanne Thompson, St. John's Mayor Danny Breen, Newfoundland and Labrador Environment Minister Bernard Davis and St. John's East-Quidi Vidi MHA John Abbott announced a commitment to explore creating a national urban park in the city on Monday. (Mark Cumby/CBC)

The City of St. John's and Parks Canada are exploring locations for a national urban park in Newfoundland and Labrador's capital that officials say would conserve green space in the city and boost the economy.

At a news conference Monday in the Quidi Vidi neighbourhood of St. John's, Mayor Danny Breen said the area could be a candidate, although no discussions have been had yet about the potential location.

"All of our neighbourhoods and our communities found in this city share an appreciation and a desire for green space and access to nature," he said.

"I would think that if anybody were to look at St. John's and look at the area around here in the eastern part of St. John's, I think you would find a lot of land here that would be a very good candidate."

The national urban park plan, which aim to connect people in larger centres with nature and advance reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, is relatively new, announced in August 2021. Only one park has been designated so far — Rouge National Urban Park, outside Toronto. Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault says each park will be different, based on the geography and the needs of towns and cities.

"It's a very flexible program, and the models are all so very different," he said. "It's not up to us, Parks, to determine where the parks will be. We want to sit down with the city, with local partners, to determine what would be the best location."

Guilbeault said plans for urban parks aren't a one size fits all approach, and are built around the location's geography.
Guilbeault says plans for urban parks aren't one-size-fits-all — each will be designed in keeping with the location's geography. (Mark Cumby/CBC)

Breen said the park designation would be a boost to St. John's, benefiting tourism, businesses and the economy through the creation of new jobs in infrastructure, recreation and tourism.

It isn't clear when the park will be designated, but Breen said he wants discussions, followed by public consultation, to begin as soon as possible.

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