January 24th, 2023 - 5:30pm
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 25, 2022
MASSE ALONG WITH MP LEWIS AND STAKEHOLDERS ADVOCATE FOR MASSE’S BILL C-248 TO CREATE OJIBWAY NATIONAL URBAN PARK IN LEAD UP TO FINAL HOUSE OF COMMONS VOTE
(WINDSOR) – Today, Brian Masse MP (Windsor West) along with Chris Lewis MP (Essex), Rick Labonte and members of UNIFOR Environment Committee, Jonathan Choquette of Wildlife Preservation Canada, Claire McCallister and Mike Fisher of Friends of Ojibway Prairie, Windsor Essex Bike Community (WEBC) Directors Dave Doherty, Glyn Buck, and Michael Benard, were at the Ojibway Nature Centre to advocate for Masse’s private members’ bill C-248 to establish Ojibway National Urban Park in the lead up to the third reading vote on February 8th in the House of Commons (HOC).
“The bill to establish Ojibway National Park is the culmination of years, if not decades, of work by many residents of this region fighting to protect this unique ecosystem in one of the most heavily developed areas in the country. The upcoming third reading vote is another important step in the legislative process. The appearance as witnesses at committee in support of the bill by Caldwell First Nation, the City of Windsor, Wildlands League, and Friends of Ojibway demonstrated uniform consensus in favour of the legislation. MP Lewis has been behind this endeavour from the start of the bill’s progress through the House with his speech during debate, his vote at second reading, and his participation today demonstrates the multiparty support. Unifor Environment Committee and WEBC being here today highlight the widespread community support the bill has achieved,” stated Masse.
The proposed Ojibway National Urban Park (NUP) 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.
“This issue goes back to mental health. We need to get people active and improve their health by getting them outdoors and appreciating the world around us. At the same time this bill helps preserve wildlife and conserve the environment and ensure that Caldwell First Nations can preserve their homelands for future generations. I am happy to continue to support this bill and the Ojibway National Urban Park,” stated MP Lewis
On June 8th of this year in a vote of 169 for the bill and 147 against C-248 passed second reading in the HOC. The bill had the support of the Bloc, Green Party, Conservative party, the NDP, and two liberal MPs. On October 28th, at HOC Environment and Sustainable Development Committee Caldwell First Nation, the City of Windsor, Wildlands League, and Friends of Ojibway testified in favour of the bill. On November 15, the HOC Environment committee voted 6 to 5 to pass the bill with the NDP, Conservatives, Bloc MPs voting in favour and all the Liberal members voting against the bill passed the committee.
“Unifor 444 and the whole community have long waited for this. Our Environment committee has worked side by side with MP Brian Masse and many environmental groups on this file. We all are excited and anxious to see the Bill C-248 get across the finish line after its third reading in the House of Commons,” stated Rick Labonte.
“We’re pleased to see such amazing support locally for a national urban park and are hopeful that the third reading of Bill C-248 will provide another opportunity to show the wide support that exists in parliament for the creation of an Ojibway National Urban Park. It’s important that the park be established with the full protection of strong federal legislation, and we note that Bill-C248 meets this standard by proposing to add the Ojibway National Urban Park to the Canada National Parks Act”, Mike Fisher, Friends of Ojibway Prairie ONUP Committee Chair.
“It is an honour for WEBC to partner with elected officials such as MP Brian Masse, to ensure cyclists have continued access to trails and improved bike infrastructure within the new Urban National Park project.,” stated Dave Doherty.
“The private member’s Bill to establish Ojibway National Urban Park (C-248) has passed second reading at the Environment and Sustainable Development Committee. If passed into law, this will be a boon to Windsor where species at risk and flood risk are amongst the highest in Canada. The establishment of a new National Urban Park, co-managed with Indigenous Peoples, is also a great example for Canada and the world of what can be done in and around cities to halt and reverse biodiversity loss and build greater climate resilience“, wrote Janet Sumner, executive Director of the Wildlands League.