Citizens Environment Alliance
November 10, 1998

Harbour Commission Project Will Destroy Ojibway Shoreline Habitat

Windsor, Ontario -

In a meeting with the Windsor Harbour Commission last week, it was revealed to the Citizens Environment Alliance (CEA) that the Harbour Commission plans to cut down trees and prepare the Ojibway Shoreline area for industrial development.

The Ojibway Shoreline area, home to the last remaining natural shoreline within City limits has been the subject of much discussion and controversy over the past 7 years. Environmentalists opposed the City of Windsor's zoning of this area as heavy industrial and transferal to the Harbour Commission as compensation for the Rendezvous property in east Windsor. More recently, this area has been included in discussions regarding the protection and restoration of Detroit River habitat.

Lisa Tulen, Habitat Specialist with the CEA, said , "with no tenants in sight, we find the clearing of this property very premature, what is the rush? Today, many companies work at promoting a green image and now look at more environmentally friendly alternatives to lessen the impact to habitat at their new locations.

The Harbour Commission claims it will retain a one hundred foot buffer strip on one side of the property and it is proposing the same buffer strip around the perimeter. Although these strips of land will provide limited value as corridors for wildlife to access the Detroit River for water, the substantial loss of .6 hectares of upland habitat will negatively impact the entire area. Furthermore, eventual plans to construct a dock at this facility will result in substantial loss of highly valued nearshore habitat, areas essential to spawning and nursery areas for fish and nesting areas to waterfowl.

With less than 4% tree-cover in Essex County, all wooded areas are significant. According to Rick Coronado, Research Director with the CEA, " other properties could be made available to the Harbour Commission if the City of Windsor would cooperate. Also, very shortly, Bill C-9 will render Harbour Commissions as null and void, so why should they proceed with this arrogant development at this time?" Additionally, the Ministry of Natural Resources designated the Ojibway Shore property as an Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI). This area should be included as part of the entire Black Oak Woods ANSI.

The Windsor Harbour Commission is a Federal agency established under the provisions of the Harbour Commission Act. Their board consists of three commissioners, two of which are appointed by the Federal government and one by the City of Windsor. According to the Windsor Harbour Commission's Mission Statement this set up "ensures that the Commission can act decisively in responding to local concerns and changing business conditions." The CEA is hoping that the Harbour Commission board will consider all options including other federal government programs that strive to protect habitat such as The Ecological Gifts Initiative whereby corporate land is donated in order to receive federal income tax credits.

A panel discussion with local experts is planned for the Windsor Press Club for Dec. 3, 1998 7:00 P.M. on development and land use issues in Essex County.

For more information contact:
Shawn Hupka
President, Citizens Environment Alliance
(519) 973-1116