Windsor leaders meet with Parks Canada at Ojibway National Urban Park

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As part of a “non-partisan” initiative, the Liberal MP for Windsor, the NDP MP and the mayor met with Parks Canada on the possibility of designating an Ojibway National Urban Park.

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Less than a month after Windsor City Council approved the idea of ​​the entire Ojibway Nature Complex to become a new national urban park, federal agencies responded.

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On Monday, a teleconference was held with the participation of Windsor-Tecumseh MP Irek Kusmierczyk, Windsor West MP Brian Masse, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens and representatives from Parks Canada and Environment Canada.

Kusmierczyk, who organized the meeting, described it as “very productive”.

“There was a commitment for us to continue working together,” Kusmierczyk said on Tuesday. “This conversation was about what the process might look like. “

Masse, a New Democrat who has worked for years on the issue of protecting the Ojibway Prairie complex, said he was grateful and happy to participate.

“This is obvious, such an incredible opportunity for positive environmental change that we just need to do it,” Masse said on Tuesday.

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“(The liberals) have to show a certain progressive movement, and this is an issue that is really easy to get started,” Masse added.

This is the first time that Parks Canada is officially involved in this file. Kusmierczyk, a member of the Liberal government, called the initiative “non-partisan”.

“When we work together, we are stronger as a community,” said Kusmierczyk. “It has always been one of our strengths, and I felt it was important to have all the partners at the table.”

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Kusmierczyk said he believes there is something to be learned from the creation of Rouge National Urban Park in Toronto, Canada’s first and only national urban park to date.

“But we’re also talking a lot about a made-in-Windsor framework for what that might look like,” Kusmierczyk said.

No timeline has been set at this point, but Kusmierczyk said there was “a sense of excitement and willingness to continue” with the project.

A map showing the lands that make up the Ojibway Prairie Complex, from the Detroit River and Ojibway shores in the west to the Spring Garden Natural Area adjacent to Herb Gray Drive in the east.
A map showing the lands that make up the Ojibway Prairie Complex, from the Detroit River and Ojibway shores in the west to the Spring Garden Natural Area adjacent to Herb Gray Drive in the east. Windsor Star

The teleconference came about three weeks after Windsor City Council unanimously backed Masse’s proposal that all land associated with the Ojibway Prairie Complex – such as Ojibway Park, Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Preserve, and Ojibway Shores – should be designated a national urban park.

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Mayor Dilkens said he was happy the federal government responded.

“The prospect of uniting these land holdings into one larger combined ecological reserve is quite exciting. Parks Canada has the infrastructure, expertise and resources to transform the Ojibway properties into a truly special urban park, ”said Dilkens.

“This is an example of how the whole can be more than just the sum of parts. “

A cyclist enjoys the Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve in West Windsor.  Photographed June 29, 2021.
A cyclist enjoys the Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve in West Windsor on June 29, 2021. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star

Ojibway Shores, along the Detroit River, is under the control of the Windsor Port Authority. Last month, it was learned that a possible land swap between the City of Windsor and the Port Authority failed when the waterfront property that the municipality had planned to expropriate for the deal was abruptly sold by its based owner. in Michigan.

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Masse said he hoped Parks Canada could help resolve the dispute over Ojibway Shores, as well as the future relationship with the Port Authority, which is not considered a Crown corporation but officially reports to ” other public enterprises ”.

“The heist was, quite frankly, with the port authority,” Masse said. “(The Port Authority) is nothing more than an extension of your federal government.”

Asked why there has been a recent and rapid movement by the federal Liberal government on the issue after years of non-involvement, particularly with regard to Ojibway Shores, Masse replied, “I imagine they want to do it as soon as possible, given the potential for an election.

Politics aside, Masse said any federal action on the issue is welcome. “Any work we can do now… would be of great value to all residents of Windsor-Essex. “

Kusmierczyk stressed that expanding urban parks was a priority declared in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s 2020 Speech from the Throne, as well as in mandate letters sent to federal environment and infrastructure ministers.

“Here we have an opportunity where our local vision aligns with the vision of the federal government,” said Kusmierczyk. “We want to be a part of this conversation. “

dchen@postmedia.com

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