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St. John’s and Ottawa announce national city park for capital

St. John’s and Ottawa announce national city park for capital
St. John’s and Ottawa announce national city park for capital

From left to right: 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 Monday that they will explore the possibility of creating a national urban park in the city. (Mark Cumby/CBC)

The city of St. John’s and Parks Canada are exploring locations for a national urban park in the Newfoundland and Labrador capital, which authorities say would preserve the city’s green space and boost its economy.

Mayor Danny Breen said at a news conference in the Quidi Vidi neighborhood of St. John’s on Monday that the area could be considered, although no discussions have yet taken place about the potential location.

“All of our neighborhoods and communities in this city share an appreciation and desire for green space and access to nature,” he said.

“I think if someone were to look at St. John’s and the area here in the eastern part of St. John’s, they would find a lot of land here that would be a very good candidate.”

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

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

According to Guilbeault, plans for urban parks are not universal: each park is designed based on the geography of its location. (Mark Cumby/CBC)

Breen said the park’s designation would be a boost to St. John’s, benefiting tourism, business and the economy by creating new jobs in infrastructure, recreation and tourism.

It’s not yet clear when the park will be designated, but Breen said he wants talks, followed by a public consultation, to begin as soon as possible.

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