August 5, 2021 4:17 p.m.
The City of Windsor has signed a “declaration of collaboration” with Parks Canada to develop a national urban park.
The city will now begin discussions with the federal agency to transform and connect parts of the Ojibway Prairie complex into an urban park that will allow people to explore nature while protecting biodiversity in the area.
“It kicks off a conversation with the federal government, it’s a sign that they’re interested in coming to an agreement or some sort of resolution on how to deal with the Ojibway Prairie complex and really maximize its value,” said Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens.
Minister responsible for Parks Canada Jonathan Wilkinson this week announced the Saskatchewan National Urban Parks Program. There are currently seven study parks across the country, including the Meewasin Valley in Saskatoon as well as the municipalities of Winnipeg and Halifax. Approximately $ 130.9 million has been spent on the creation of these national urban parks.
“There is some flexibility in how the money is spent and our focus will be on working with municipalities and, in some cases, provinces to make sure these are areas we will all be very proud of. This will provide access to nature for local residents and can potentially help provide tourism benefits to local communities, ”Wilkinson said.
Windsor Park could include areas like the current Ojibway Park, Ojibway Shores, and the Black Oak area.
“The question is how do you put all of this great terrain together, put the right trail infrastructure in place so that people have several miles of trails to explore this great urban national park in their own city,” Dilkens said.
Wilkinson said he hopes to have a clear path ahead over the next year or so.
“The timelines will likely be different depending on local circumstances and also depending on the degree of urgency the municipality places on working with us,” Wilkinson said. “But, I certainly hope that over the next year or so we will be able to have done a lot of the consulting work and be able to be much more definitive on what that might look like in the future. “
Part of the upcoming discussions will involve integrating the lands of Ojibway Shores, currently held by the Windsor Port Authority, into the National Urban Park.
“The right thing for the federal government to do as the owner of this land is to fairly compensate the port authority and to ensure that the land is included in the national urban park so that everyone has confidence that the land is included in the national urban park. ‘it will never be developed,’ Dilken said.
The Windsor Port Authority issued a statement commending the formal agreement between the City of Windsor and Parks Canada.
“The Port Authority now looks forward to continuing discussions with the City and Canada on how the Port’s Ojibway Shores property might fit into the planned National Urban Park. Identifying a replacement property is the key to the solution to ensure that the port can move forward with its core mandate of economic development and growth, ”the statement said.
Minister Wilkinson has said he is committed to working with the Harbor Authority while developing the park.
“We’re going to explore all of our options to create a park that is actually a park that the people of Windsor use and enjoy,” Wilkinson said. “These are exactly the conversations we’re going to be starting very soon, moving forward to make sure we’re doing what it takes to make it a great space.”
Parks Canada is also committed to working closely with Indigenous partners to ensure that national urban parks promote Indigenous voices and provide opportunities for land and water connections.