A new federal government deal will clear the way for Ojibway Shores — a key piece of land along the Windsor-Detroit shoreline — to be part of the proposed Ojibway National Urban Park project.
Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said in the House of Commons Thursday that Transport Canada and Parks Canada are signing a memorandum of understanding to pursue a transfer of the land from the Windsor Port Authority to Parks Canada.
Liberal MP Irek Kusmierczyk, who represents Windsor-Tecumseh, said Ojibway Shores is going to be protected for generations to come.
"Today is a great day and a tremendous step forward toward an Ojibway National Urban Park right here in Windsor," he said.
The deal will involve a land swap, with Parks Canada providing compensation to the Windsor Port Authority as it looks to locate property that will be exchanged in the deal, Kusmiercyzk said.
Kusmierczyk called the 13-hectare space an "invaluable piece of the puzzle."
"It is the last piece of natural habitat along the Detroit River," he said.
In August, the federal government and the city of Windsor signed a "statement of collaboration" to explore the idea of a national urban park.
Kusmierczyk said that consultations will occur to determine the final footprint of the park and how it will be governed. The federal government has provided about $600 million to the city for those consultations.
The concept of a national urban park dates back many years and has been championed by NDP MP Brian Masse, who represents Windsor West.
At the same time that the government is doing consultation toward the project, Masse is looking to establish the park through a private member's bill, C-248, which will be voted on in the House of Commons on June 8.
His proposal for a 364-hectare park would include Ojibway Park, Spring Garden Natural Area, Black Oak Heritage Park, the Tallgrass Prairie Park, Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve, as well as Ojibway Shores.
"Today is a victory for all residents, the City of Windsor, and all the organizations that have called for this land transfer to Parks Canada to happen," Masse said in a statement.
"I have been advocating for this to many ministers of Transport and the Environment for five years. I even sent directions on how to do it to the Windsor Port Authority. The federal government has finally acknowledged what has been known for five years and should have been done long ago."