Rupert’s Pond and Open Space stand as a showcase for stormwater management and habitat enhancement within an urban environment. The park, located adjacent to Routley Park north of Rutherford Rd. and east of Keele St., lies on Rupert’s Creek, a tributary of the West Don that meets the main stream further south near Jacob Keffer Parkway. A trail runs through the site along the watercourse from Rutherford Rd. north to Fifefield Drive, while a connection southward to the main BSG trail is in the planning stage. In earlier days this was agricultural land, and the Peter Rupert family homestead still stands adjacent to the site. With the coming of urban development, a pond was created as an ‘online’ collection point for storm water runoff from the adjacent residential areas, and the watercourse upstream as channelized. This state of affairs, together with a lack of adequate wetland and riparian vegetation, did little for water quality downstream and provided very restricted wildlife habitat.
The Don Watershed Task Force first introduced Rupert’s Pond as a candidate for revitalization in 1993 and a regeneration plan for the whole site was proposed in Forty Steps to a New Don. Ten years later this plan became reality -- the new park was officially opened by the Mayor of Vaughan in October 2003. Additional settling ponds and wetland features have been created, the stream has been realigned into a more natural meander, and the area has been landscaped to provide a more natural setting. Above all, with the participation of many local residents, thousands of aquatic plants, shrubs and trees have been planted.
The Rupert’s Pond project serves as an excellent example of how an engineering design based on ecological principles, together with community involvement, can assist natural processes in achieving three simultaneous goals – improving water quantity and quality management, providing much-needed habitat for aquatic and terrestrial wildlife in an urban setting, as well as catering to the passive recreational needs of local residents.