It’s time for Ontario to do its part to establish an Ojibway National Urban Park, say Representative Brian Masse of Windsor West and Representative 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 step in, say local NDP representatives.

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

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

“I am asking this provincial government to participate in 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 more pressure on the province, and Gretzky asked all local residents to sign it.

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Windsor West MPP Lisa Gretzky (left) and Windsor West MP Brian Masse (right) at the Ojibway Nature Center in Windsor on October 7, 2021.
Windsor West MPP 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.

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The expected 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 establishment of Rouge National Urban Park, the first of its kind, in the Toronto area. The original Rouge Park had been under provincial ownership since 1995.

A map showing the various areas of the Ojibway Prairie Complex.
A map showing the various areas of the Ojibway Prairie Complex. Photo for Handout /Windsor Star

The lands that would comprise the Ojibway National Urban Park, about 900 acres in total, are home to a wide variety of species at risk. Gretzky noted 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 percent of these plants are considered rare in Ontario,” Gretzky wrote in a letter addressed to the prime minister and the Ontario Minister of the Environment.

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

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

“We need … to be relentless and persistent to make sure it gets done,” Masse said. “The province has to do its part … Neighbors can show their support by signing the petition for 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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Reference-windsorstar.com

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