Ojibway Shores may be preserved, not developed

The proposed plan for Ojibway Shores will be put on hold the Windsor Port Authority's board of directors announced Wednesday.

Port president David Cree says no fill from Herb Gray Parkway 'will certainly change our business case'

A decision on the Ojibway Shores situation has been made. Plans to develop are on hold. 2:02

The Windsor Port Authority's board of directors on Wednesday officially put the proposed plan to develop Ojibway Shores on hold.

Port authority president David Cree said in a media release that the authority will work with local environmental groups, the City of Windsor and other governmental agencies "to identify possible alternatives to the development of Ojibway Shores."

The Windsor Port Authority had planned to cut down trees and then infill part of the property with dirt from the Herb Gray Parkway project. The authority hoped work would begin in the fall.

But Transport Minister Denis Lebel and a contractor working on the parkway have both said the port authority won't be getting any of the dirt from the construction site.

"Please be assured that Transport Canada has no intention of using the Ojibway Shores land to accept fill for the Detroit River International Crossing project," Lebel wrote to a group of concerned environmentalists opposed to the project.

Cree said that would affect the business case for developing the land.

"If we can't obtain any clean fill from that location it will certainly change our business case for the proposal and that will form part of the total-package information the board looks at," Cree told CBC News before a board of directors meeting Wednesday. "If that's no longer available, that's certainly going to be an important factor for us to look at."

The port authority told CBC Windsor's Lisa Xing it was originally looking for a tenant to develop the approximately 13-hectare plot of land but that it would now possibly consider a tenant who would, instead, preserve that land.

Environmentalists say it's the last natural and undisturbed piece of riverfront property in Windsor and a key link to Black Oak Heritage Park and Ojibway Park.

Derek Coronado, of the Environment Citizens' Alliance, said he and others want a more permanent solution to preserve the land, perhaps a 100-year — or longer — lease.

The port authority held a public meeting last week to discuss the plan. Nearly 200 people showed up to the standing-room-only event at Mackenzie Hall.

"The purpose of the recent open house was to give the public an opportunity to express their views about our proposed development and to obtain further information about possible important species on the site," Cree said in a media release. "The numerous concerns raised at the public meeting are under consideration at this time."