Supporters of Rouge National Urban Park received good news Wednesday. 

The House of Commons approved Bill C-18 — legislation that adds over 17 square kilometres to the park and introduces more protections for ecosystems, wildlife and working farmers in the eastern Toronto area. 

"Rouge is a tremendous example of what we can do when we work together with the provincial government, with indigenous peoples, with environmentalists and including farmers," Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said in Ottawa.  

Ecological integrity and visitor experience

This new legislation, which has been debated for almost four years, amends the Rouge National Urban Park Act.

Toronto MP Blake Richards

Conservative MP Blake Richards was the only one to oppose changes to the Rouge National Urban Park Act on Wednesday. (The Canadian Press Images)

But not all were in favour of this change. 

Conservative MP Blake Richards, who was the only one to oppose the motion, told CBC News in a statement what concerns him most is the bill's first priority, ecological integrity. 

He argues this shouldn't be the park's only concern. 

"Park's Canada's mandate is obviously to promote ecological integrity, but it is also to promote visitor experience," he said. 

Richards represents the Banff-Airdrie area in Alberta, which encompasses Banff National Park.

Focusing too much on the environmental integrity of the park will detract from its role as a "guide to visitors," he said. 

"There is a balance between ecological integrity and visitor experience — a balance which needs to be maintained." 

21 times the size of Central Park

But McKenna maintains this decision is one that benefits both the environment and park users.  

"We're talking about a national park that is 21 times the size of Central Park in New York where we'll be protecting the ecosystems,as well as wildlife, and where working farmers will continue to grow crops, and in fact will be able to teach visitors and Canadians more about the food we grow and eat," she said.

Toronto Rouge Park Trail

Rouge National Urban Park is home to more than 1,700 species of plants and animals, according to the federal government. (John Rieti/CBC)