February 9th, 2023 - 1:56am

Community, Environment, In the House, Ojibway Shores, Other News, Press Releases

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February 8, 2023


Bill C-248 enters the final step in the House of Commons with the support of the City of Windsor, Caldwell First Nation, environmental groups, residents, and the NDP, Conservatives, and Bloc MPs and even some liberals

(OTTAWA) – Today, Brian Masse’s MP (Windsor West), private members’ bill C-248 to establish Ojibway National Urban Park (ONUP) began third reading in the House of Commons (HOC). Third reading is the final step in the HOC in the legislative process for a bill which after it passes goes on to the Senate.   On June 23, The Parliament of Canada’s official communications posted on its Facebook page, “Did you know that national parks are created through Acts of Parliament? On this day in 1887, Parliament passed the Rocky Mountain Parks Act, which established what is now Banff as the first national park in Canada.  Today, there are 48 national parks. They are found in every Canadian province and territory.” Bill C-248 follows the process that has created all other national parks- legislation passed by parliament. Hopefully, it will be Canada’s newest national park.

“The bill to establish ONUP 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. It has been a real privilege to be the one who brought this bill to the House of Commons. Today, is another 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 support of the legislation. So, thank you to everyone who has worked for years to make this happen,” stated Masse.

The proposed 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.

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. In a bizarre twist, the government’s amendments to the bill were ruled out of order by their own Liberal committee chair. The vote to pass the bill at committee was 6 to 5 with the NDP, Conservatives, Bloc MPs voting in favour and all the Liberal members voting against.

On August 27, 2019, a townhall was held in Windsor where the idea of ONUP was formally discussed by many local, national, and international organizations, and many individual citizens. Over the past three years a consensus has developed for all these publicly owned properties, parks, and preserves be combined into a National Urban Park. The results have been that Caldwell First Nation and all Windsor municipal, provincial, and federal officials have committed to this. Local Essex MP, Conservative Chris Lewis, spoke in favour of the bill in the debate and at press conferences.

“This is an essential step in making this park a reality. Today, C-248 begins its third reading debates and a final vote in April.  I want to thank my colleagues for their support. All those years of work by so many people across this city and country brought this day about,” Masse stated.