Premier of Ontario
Toronto, ON, M7A 1A1
Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks
College Park - 5th Floor
777 Bay St.
Toronto, ON, M7A 2J3
October 6, 2021
Dear Premier and Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks,
I am writing today to make you aware of the need to create Ojibway National Urban Park in Windsor West. The proposed Ojibway National Urban Park (ONUP) would include Ojibway Park, Spring Garden Natural Area, Black Oak Heritage Park, the Tallgrass Prairie Park, Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve, and Ojibway Shores, a vital 33-acre greenspace and the last remaining, undeveloped natural shoreline in Windsor-Detroit.
It is home to hundreds of endangered species that rely on migration through surrounding local parks for survival. If connected, this area of approximately 900 acres, including the Detroit River could become one of North America’s treasures. It serves not only as a home and larger ecosystem to these species, but also provides mitigation of flooding due to climate change and natural heritage areas that our community can enjoy, appreciate, and use for healthy living space and ecotourism.
The Province of Ontario, through the Ministry of Natural Resources, owns and manages Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve, which is 230 acres of prairie, savanna, and open woodland. The nature reserve is the largest protected remnant of native prairie in Ontario. It is one of the earth's most endangered plant communities. More than 500 flowering plants are found in and around the nature reserve. About 18 per cent of these plants are considered to be rare in Ontario. It has greater biodiversity than Algonquin Park or the Bruce Peninsula. Harboring more rare species than any other provincial park in Ontario. Recognized in the 1970s as an important natural area, Ojibway Prairie was established as a nature reserve in co-operation with the Nature Conservancy of Canada, the Province of Ontario and the City of Windsor.
In August 2019, I attended the ONUP town hall hosted by Brian Masse MP Windsor West which included local, national, and international organizations including grassroots groups such as Friends of Ojibway, Friends of the Rouge, the US Audubon society, the Detroit International Wildlife Refuge, the Wildlands League, former conservation workers, unions, former city parks directors, and hundreds of residents. It is also supported by Caldwell First Nation. As well, in June 2021, Windsor City Council unanimously endorsed the proposed plan. Furthermore, on August 9, the federal government signed a statement of collaboration with the City of Windsor to ultimately designate the Ojibway Prairie complex as a national urban park.
The Ojibway National Urban Park is supported by all three levels of government representatives in Windsor-Essex, as well as thousands of constituents. I am asking this government to:
- Engage in conversations with the City of Windsor, the Federal government, and Parks Canada to establish this Urban Park to protect this vital 900-acre greenspace
- Sign an agreement with Parks Canada to transfer Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve to establish ONUP, similar to what the Province did when it transferred provincial Rouge Park to help establish Rouge National Urban Park.
- Respectfully work with and support local Indigenous peoples such as the Caldwell First Nation to ensure accountability and transparency in the establishment and management of ONUP.
I am confident that your government will support the creation of the Ojibway National Urban Park in Windsor West to help protect vital greenspace, flood mitigation, and support ecotourism.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
Lisa Gretzky, MPP Windsor West
NDP Critic for Community and Social Services