Province to support Ojibway National Urban Park, Windsor NDP says

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It’s time for Ontario to do its part to establish an Ojibway National Urban Park, say West Windsor MP Brian Masse and MPP Lisa Gretzky.

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Now that Parks Canada and the City of Windsor have expressed their commitment to an Ojibway National Urban Park, it is time for the provincial government to get involved, say local NDP representatives.

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Windsor West MP Brian Masse and Windsor West MP Lisa Gretzky held a press conference on Thursday to demand that Ontario begin moving the Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve to federal ownership.

Describing the Ojibway Prairie complex as “vital green space,” Masse said creating a national urban park to protect it will require support from all three levels of government – federal, municipal and provincial.

“I am asking this provincial government to start conversations,” Masse said. “I also ask the Prime Minister to sign an agreement with Parks Canada to transfer the Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve.

A petition was launched to put pressure on the province, with Gretzky asking all local residents to sign.

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Windsor West MP Lisa Gretzky (left) and Windsor West MP Brian Masse (right) at the Ojibway Nature Center in Windsor on October 7, 2021.
Windsor West MP Lisa Gretzky (left) and Windsor West MP Brian Masse (right) at the Ojibway Nature Center in Windsor on October 7, 2021. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star

Currently, the 230-acre Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve is owned by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.

The hoped-for Ojibway National Urban Park would include the Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve, as well as Ojibway Shores, Black Oak Heritage Park, Ojibway Park, Tallgrass Prairie Park, and Spring Garden Natural Area.

Masse noted that Ontario made a similar transfer in 2017 for the creation of Rouge National Urban Park – the first of its kind – in the Toronto area. The original Rouge Park had been owned by the province since 1995.

A map showing the different areas of the Ojibway Prairie complex.
A map showing the different areas of the Ojibway Prairie complex. Photo by document /Windsor Star

The land that would make up Ojibway National Urban Park – about 900 acres in total – is home to a wide variety of species at risk. Gretzky pointed out that the Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve in particular is “the largest protected remnant of native prairie in Ontario.”

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“About 18% of these plants are considered rare in Ontario,” Gretzky wrote in a letter to the Premier and the Minister of the Environment of Ontario.

“It has greater biodiversity than Algonquin Park or the Bruce Peninsula, home to more rare species than any other provincial park in Ontario.

  1. The Detroit River is pictured from Ojibway Shores on Tuesday, August 7, 2018.

    Windsor City Council Supports Mass Call for National Urban Park

  2. A sign indicating the Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve at the west end of Windsor is posted on June 29, 2021.

    Windsor leaders meet with Parks Canada at Ojibway National Urban Park

  3. A sign indicating the Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve at the western end of Windsor is posted on June 29, 2021.

    Minister “very determined” to create a national urban park in Windsor

  4. Karina Gould, Minister of International Development, is flanked by IREK Kusmiercyzk, MP for Windsor-Tecumseh, left, and Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, as they announce the signing of a declaration of collaboration to explore the potential of a national urban park in the Ojibway Prairie Complex on Monday, August 9, 2021.

    Windsor National Urban Park is close to a sure thing, Federal Minister says

  5. MP Brian Masse is featured at the Ojibway Nature Center in Windsor during a press conference on Thursday, September 16, 2021.

    Masses push for Ojibway National Urban Park

Although the federal government has signed a statement of collaboration with the City of Windsor on the potential creation of an Ojibway National Urban Park, Masse said there are “many steps to go” until the concept becomes reality.

“We… have to be relentless and persistent to make sure this happens,” Masse said. “The province must do its part… Residents can show their support by signing the petition to get the province to act.

The online petition can be found on Lisa Gretzky’s website, www.lisagretzkympp.ca/ojibway_national_park.

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