Hatfield urges provincial leaders to ensure National Urban Park takes place in Windsor

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The protected property of the provincially owned Ojibway complex led local MPP Percy Hatfield to seek its transfer to the federal government to create a national urban park in Windsor.

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The 230-acre Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve is managed by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.

Hatfield said Thursday he had recent discussions and exchanged emails with Ford government MPs and Environment Minister Dave Piccini urging them to ensure the protected site is in good hands under the federal government so that a local national urban park can soon be finalized.

A similar transfer of provincial ownership was needed several years ago in Toronto in order to create Rouge National Urban Park, he said.

If the province agrees to cooperate, it can happen

An exchange of ownership is the most likely option, indicating that a federally owned park could be swapped for Windsor Provincial Nature Reserve, Hatfield said.

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“What we need from the province is no different than what was required when Rouge National Urban Park was created in Toronto six years ago,” said Hatfield. “We need the province to come to an agreement with Ottawa and create the Ojibway National Urban Park.

A pond in the Spring Garden Natural Area, which is part of the Ojibway Prairie Complex, is seen on Thursday, November 18, 2021.
A pond in the Spring Garden Natural Area, which is part of the Ojibway Prairie Complex, is seen on Thursday, November 18, 2021. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star

Hatfield raised the issue Wednesday in the Ontario legislature.

“The federal government has made a commitment, the City of Windsor is very supportive, the Essex Region Conservation Authority and all natural and environmental heritage groups in the area,” he said during the statement. of a member at Queen’s Park.

“This nature reserve is needed as a patchwork quilt, if you will, connecting with other pockets of natural spaces. This concept has been around for 20 years. Now that the federal government is on board, it’s really up to the province to decide.

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The proposed Windsor National Urban Park, long touted by local MP Brian Masse (NDP – Windsor West), would include approximately 900 acres in the Ojibway complex stretching from the Detroit River to the east which includes Ojibway Shores, Ojibway Tom Joy Woods, Spring Garden Natural Area, Black Oak Heritage Park, Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Preserve, and Oakwood Bush.

“It can happen,” Hatfield said. “It’s just a matter of transferring the (Ojibway reserve) and everyone is keeping their word at the federal level. We have a great opportunity to consolidate those 900 acres. I just think it’s very important for the environment, for clean air and for the protection of endangered species there.

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  1. National urban park?  An aerial view of Ojibway Shores, Windsor's last natural shoreline along the Detroit River, is shown on May 16, 2019.

    Mayor calls on new Federal Minister of the Environment to help save Ojibway Shores

  2. Windsor West MP Lisa Gretzky (left) and Windsor West MP Brian Masse (right) at the Ojibway Nature Center in Windsor on October 7, 2021.

    Province to support Ojibway National Urban Park, Windsor NDP says

  3. Pieces of concrete and rebar on a property for sale near Ojibway Shores.  Photographed July 22, 2021.

    Transport Canada says Port Authority is independent on Ojibway Shores issue

Hatfield also cited the importance of creating a large green space that can in perpetuity become a signature focal point at the foot of the Gordie Howe International Bridge for anyone entering or leaving Canada.

“You will be able to look down and see this green belt and all this free land,” he said. “Putting an iron ring around the Ojibway region and creating a national urban park is, in my opinion, something very important for our children and grandchildren.

“You have the federal government, the city, the local environmental groups and everyone seems to be pulling in the same direction on this. If the province agrees to cooperate, it can happen.

dbattagelo@postmedia.com

The Spring Garden Natural Area, part of the Ojibway Prairie Complex, is seen on Thursday, November 18, 2021.
The Spring Garden Natural Area, part of the Ojibway Prairie Complex, is seen on Thursday, November 18, 2021. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star
The Spring Garden Natural Area, part of the Ojibway Prairie Complex, is seen on Thursday, November 18, 2021.
The Spring Garden Natural Area, part of the Ojibway Prairie Complex, is seen on Thursday, November 18, 2021. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star
The Spring Garden Natural Area, part of the Ojibway Prairie Complex, is seen on Thursday, November 18, 2021.
The Spring Garden Natural Area, part of the Ojibway Prairie Complex, is seen on Thursday, November 18, 2021. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star

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