Windsor City Council has voted unanimously to endorse NDP Windsor West MP Brian Masse's proposal seeking the federal government's help in turning Ojibway Shores into a national urban park.
In a letter to the federal government, Masse requests that federal ministers transfer Ojibway Shores from the Windsor Port Authority to Environment Canada so the land (about 33 hectares of greenspace) can be included in a national urban park.
"It's something the community has brought forth and we've been championing for a number of different years," said Masse.
Land exchange terminated
Masse has been pursuing the national urban park idea for a number of years, but the fate of the land was called into question earlier this month when a land exchange between the Windsor Port Authority (WPA), the City of Windsor and private property owner Mike Dorian, fell through.
Since 2018, the City of Windsor had been in negotiations with WPA to eventually take ownership of Ojibway Shores. The plan included the expropriation of 13-hectares of industrial land from Mike Dorian, who resides in Clinton Township, Michigan but owns property in the area.
Under the plan, the city would expropriate the industrial land and it would be given to WPA. In exchange, the port authority would cede ownership of Ojibway Shores, the last remaining, undeveloped natural shoreline in Windsor-Detroit, according to Masse.
But Dorian recently sold his land to a local buyer, throwing a wrench into the three-year land exchange negotiation.
According to Masse, the port authority is also balking at taking the industrial land, saying it's unacceptable to them. A federal transfer of Ojibway Shores from WPA to Environment Canada would seemingly remove that hindrance, among other benefits.
If Masse is successful, Ojibway Shores along with other municipal parks and reserves in the area including Ojibway Park, Spring Garden Natural Area, Black Oak Heritage Park, the Tallgrass Prairie Park and other natural areas would combine to form a national urban park.
Masse says there are a total of about 360 hectares of land that could be included in a park system.
Masse addressed the letter to ministers Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Omar Alghabra, Minister of Transport.
He points out a growing consensus among local residents, national and international environmental organizations about establishing the park. He says even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has expressed support.
In the letter, he also says it should not be paid for by taxpayers, but that the federal government should seize the opportunity "to combat climate change, protect endangered species and help municipalities with a simple direct action."