Jim Robb (Front Row Left) and Cathy
Gregorio (Front Row Centre), founders
of FRW, and others at an FRW retreat.
Background and Formation
Friends of the Rouge Watershed (FRW) was formed in 1991 by Cathy Gregorio and other volunteers to continue the community awareness and involvement work which led to the March 26, 1990, announcement of the Rouge Park.
Between 1990 and 1993, FRW contributed regularly to the development of the Rouge Park Management Plan with input from people such as Kevin O'Connor, Rosita Pollock, Neera Shukla, Linda Beckett, Cathy Gregorio, Jim Robb, Chris Evans, Marg Shanks, Gay Cowbourne, Rob Saftich, Dianne Ross and many others.
The founding members of FRW were originally involved with Rouge issues through Lois James and Save the Rouge Valley System (SRVS). These long-time Rouge volunteers contributed to:
- the struggle to protect Rouge parklands from landfills, highways and urban sprawl;
- the development and mapping of the Rouge Park vision between 1987 and 1990;
- the nurturing of overwhelming community and political support necessary for the Rouge Park;
- the initial announcement of the Rouge Park on March 26, 1990;
- federal and provincial investments of more than $30 million in the Rouge Park.
Between 1993 and 1996, FRW organized a number of community tree plantings and Rouge awareness events with the Rouge Park, Youth Assisting Youth, Councilor Raymond Cho, the Toronto Zoo, the City of Scarborough, the Town of Markham, and the Rouge Conservation Centre.
In 1997, FRW received grants from the Rouge Park and the federal government, enabling the group to hire staff for the first time. With full-time staff, FRW has been able to expand our volunteer coordination and community conservation work. Between 1997 and 2003, FRW has:
- involved more that 15,000 youth and community volunteers in Rouge Park activities;
- planted more than 150,000 native trees and shrubs and 50,000 native wildflowers;
- expanded Rouge Park ESAs and nature reserves by 120 hectares (250 football fields);
- provided summer employment for 20 University students;
- provided 12 person-years of employment for University graduates;
- enhanced habitat for rare and endangered species of fish and wildlife;
- helped raise more than $8 million to acquire important Rouge Park lands (e.g. Glen Eagles & Anndale).
FRW has also been able to provide research, expertise and local knowledge to influence a number of strategic planning initiatives, including:
- the commencement of an ecosystem-based Rouge watershed and water budget strategy (2003);
- the Rouge North Management Plan and implementing Official Plan Amendment (1997-2003);
- a Vegetation Restoration and Management Strategy for the Rouge Park;
- an Invasive Species Inventory and Preliminary Control Strategy;
- the Rouge Duffins Greenspace Link from the Lake to the Moraine.
Over the next 10 years, FRW hopes to further employ our passion, dedication and expertise to assist communities and governments with the protection, expansion and management of the Rouge Park and surrounding natural areas.