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Activists Fight to Save Shoreline

By Doug Schmidt, The Windsor Star, November 17, 1998

Citizen's Environment Alliance research director Rick Coronado recently toured the last natural shoreline in the city of Windsor. The Harbour Commission wants to develop the west side area known as Ojibway Shores.

Local environmentalists are calling it the last stand to save Windsor's last stand of natural shoreline.

Any day now, the chain saws will begin clearing a wooded property adjacent to the Black Oak Heritage Park.

The Windsor Harbour Commission wants to clear the land to market it to industrial tenants looking for new docking facilities on the Detroit River.

"This is the last remaining piece of natural environment along the Detroit River within the city of Windsor - it's our Point Pelee and you don't even have to leave the city," said Rick Coronado of the Citizens' Environment Alliance.

The land, referred to as Ojibway Shores, is a 26-acre block of land with adjoining five-acre waterlot the Habour Commission obtained in a swap with the city Located across from Zug Island on the U.S. side and nestled in the Ojibway Industrial Park, it's zoned for heavy industrial use and suited for riverfront shipping access.

But critics point to alternative sites for new dock development and to the need to preserve this last piece of the city's remaining natural shoreline, a popular destination of local anglers and nature buffs.

"It looks like we have no vision when we do stuff,like this," said CEA habitat specialist Lisa Tulen. "When you have less than four per cent tree cover in the area, we should be saving every tree we can."

Harbour commission general manager David Cree said a 100-foot strip of untouched land will remain surrounding the property, but he admitted there is "no guarantee" any future tenant would preserve it.

"If their backs were up against the wall, if there was no other way, then we'd be prepared to look at something -but there's other property there for dock space, alternatives for them to look at," said Coronado. Next to the land are unused riverfront industrial properties owned privately and by Ontario Hydro.

Mayor questions haste

Mayor Mike Hurst joins the criticism of the apparent haste in having the disputed lands cleared.

"Why the rush to do this now? It seems the Citizens' Environment Alliance is of the mind there may be different avenues available ... all they're asking for is room for further discussion," said Hurst. The mayor is critical because of coming legislative changes which will see the three member harbour commission substantially changed and expanded to include port users.

"There's no absolutely compelling reason to proceed with this at this time," said Hurst, adding: "I wonder if the new board would be of a similar opinion."

Cree said the move should come as "no surprise." The deal that saw the harbour commission take possession of the property has been debated since it was made six years ago.

"The city felt this was a good deal, we felt this was a good deal," said Cree. In a three-way deal, the final details of which were concluded this fall, the city agreed in 1992 to give up the Ojibway Shores property in exchange for cash and harbour commission lands at the Windsor-Tecumseh border near the site of the former Rendezvous Tavern. The city sold its newly acquired Lake St. Clair shoreline property to builder Chuck Mady for an upscale residential development.

Copyright (c) The Windsor Star