Bill to create Ojibway National Urban Park passes second reading

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The private member’s bill to create an Ojibway National Urban Park passed second reading in the House of Commons on Wednesday, removing a major roadblock and poised to become a reality.

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“It means we can now showcase our community to all of Canada,” said MP Brian Masse (NDP — Windsor West), who introduced the private member’s bill in February and has been pushing for the park ever since. years. “That’s what’s really special about this moment today. Parliament wants to hear about Windsor and Essex County and our environmental challenges, but also the opportunities with this city park. is always exciting as a member because if it hadn’t passed it would have cut off our voices in the region, instead Parliament chose to hear them loud and clear.

Masse’s Bill C-248, An Act to amend the Canada National Parks Act (Ojibway National Urban Park of Canada), passed by a vote of 169 to 147. The bill won the support of the Bloc, from the Green Party, the Conservatives, the NDP and two Liberal MPs — Jenica Atwin from Frederiction and Nathaniel Erskine-Smith from Beaches-East York.

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Irek Kusmierczyk (Liberal—Windsor-Tecumseh) voted no. He later told The Star that Masse’s bill was “a duplication.”

“We are already in the process of creating an Ojibway National Urban Park,” Kusmierczyk said. “It’s a process led by Parks Canada. We have already taken important steps in this process.

“Parks Canada, they have over 100 years of expertise and experience in building national parks. So they direct this process. It’s already well underway. We will have an Ojibway National Urban Park.

An aerial view of Matchette Road and the Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Preserve, is seen Wednesday, June 8, 2022.
An aerial view of Matchette Road and the Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Preserve, is seen Wednesday, June 8, 2022. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star

The park, a proposed 900-acre (364-hectare) protected area in west Windsor, would be among the first of its kind in the country. Canada has 48 national parks, but only one of them is in an urban setting. Rouge National Urban Park was established in Toronto in 2015.

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Masse’s bill now goes to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development before a third reading.

But private members’ bills that pass second reading usually also pass third reading. After that, it would go to the Senate, which tends to approve bills passed by Parliament.

Masse said the committee’s assessment will include public consultation with First Nations, scientists, environmental groups, the tourism sector and others, in addition to the extensive dialogue that has already been engaged in developing his plan. of law.

“We can get improvements, we will have more consultation,” he said. “There will be a chance to see how to improve the bill if there are things. I am an open door to that.

The proposed park would include Ojibway Park, Spring Garden Natural Area, Black Oak Heritage Park, Tallgrass Prairie Park, Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Preserve and Ojibway Shores. Masse said everything in the proposed national park is publicly owned.

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Windsor City Council voted unanimously in June 2021 to approve Masse’s campaign to have the land, home to hundreds of endangered species, designated a national urban park.

Two months later, the federal government announced its intention to create a network of national urban parks, including one in Windsor. The government said at the time that it had already signed “statements of collaboration” with Windsor and several other municipalities.

Emphasizing that his vote against Masse’s bill is not a vote against the park, Kusmierczyk said public consultations have been underway for months as part of the Parks Canada process.

“We are all united in the fact that we want an Ojibway National Urban Park,” he said. “But the hard work has already begun in terms of what we want, how we want the Ojibways to be governed, and what we want the Ojibways to be like. This is what is involved in this process which is already before us.

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“We want the community to co-design, co-create, and even co-manage an Ojibway National Urban Park.

In May, the federal government announced that Ojibway Shores was being transferred from Transport Canada and the Windsor Port Authority to Parks Canada. This move means that the last stretch of untouched natural land along Windsor’s waterfront can be preserved and become part of the Ojibway Prairie Protected Complex.

  1. An aerial view of the Ojibway Shores, Windsor's last remaining natural shoreline, is pictured Thursday, May 16, 2019.

    Transfer of Ojibway Shores from Port Authority is ‘big step’ towards National Urban Park

  2. A sign for the Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve in West Windsor is posted on June 29, 2021.

    Windsor leaders meet with Parks Canada to advance Ojibway National Urban Park

  3. MP Brian Masse speaks during a press conference outside a property connected to the Ojibway Shores on Wednesday, July 21, 2021. He is concerned about the potential sale of the land.

    Parks Canada offers $584,760 for Ojibway National Park assessment

Earlier this year, Parks Canada gave the city $600,000 to begin planning for the new urban park, including assessing options and opportunities, as well as further public and stakeholder consultation.

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The creation of Windsor National Urban Park has been the subject of debate, pressure and controversy for at least a decade.

Hundreds of angry people showed up at Mackenzie Hall in July 2013 to protest a Port Authority proposal to clear-cut most of Ojibway Shores and commercialize it for industrial use.

The Port Authority later backed out of that plan.

“The bill to create Ojibway National Park is the culmination of years, if not decades, of work by many residents of this region who are fighting to protect this unique ecosystem in one of the most developed areas of the country,” Masse said. “It was a real privilege to be the one in the House of Commons on the bill, but this victory belongs to so many people, from the Caldwell First Nation to local residents and environmental groups, scientists and the city of Windsor, and so many Suite.”

twilhelm@postmedia.com

twitter.com/WinStarWilhelm

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