Windsor Port Authority plans for Ojibway Shores up in the air
No deal for clean fill and public unrest may derail project
Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis recently questioned whether the Port Authority has a business plan for Ojibway Shores, a forested area in west Windsor. It's an area the Port Authority plans to almost entirely clear cut and level for current and future development.
Francis spoke with Domenic Amicone, the owner of Amico Construction, the company that's helping to build the Herb Gray Parkway.
The Mayor claimed Amicone told him there was no deal between the construction company and the Port Authority to supply cheap dirt, or fill, from the construction of the Parkway.
"We had talks with Amicone about the fill but those talks fell through," said Port Authority president and CEO David Cree.
Francis said the Authority's plan hinges on getting this cheap fill.
"Their entire business case was predicated on the fact they would be able to receive fill at a reduced rate," said the Mayor. "Now that that fill is not available that clearly changes the business case for the Port Authority."
"Clean fill was a big part of the plan," said Cree who couldn’t say what the next step would be.
The Mayor said Amicone told him there never was, nor would there be, a plan between Amico and the Port Authority.
"Let's be honest about this," said Francis. "Their [the Port Authority] business plan was predicated on a significant amount of fill. And there's only one source for that fill at a reasonable rate and that would have been from the Parkway. The fact that that's not there, I think, really forces the Port Authority to reconsider their business case."
Essex MP Jeff Watson says the lack of fill is only a temparary reprive.
"What can we do for a long term structural solution so we don't fight a series of long term rear gaurd actions on that particular property in the future," he said. "I think the natural state of the shore line and the inland corridor to some of the sensative lands has to be preserved."
But lack of clean fill isn’t the only thing that could affect plans to develop the area.
The Windsor-Essex Environment Committee passed a motion demanding the federal minister of transport inform the local port authority it cannot proceed with the cutting of trees in Ojibway shores.
This follows an emotional public meeting put on by the port authority on Wednesday night.
Around 250 people turned out to object to the port authority's plan to cut the trees in order to get a portion of Ojibway Shores ready for future development.
The committee will ask the Federal Minister of Transport to step in but Councillor Hilary Payne says it's important that city council now endorse its support for the recommendation:
"City council should get involved directly because it would then be government to government. Right now the federal government is the only one that controls what’s going on," said Payne. "Once the site is clear cut and filled it’s game over, so the physical work’s got to be stopped."
But Cree says there’s no specific plan in place for Ojibway Shores.
"All we put forward is the proposal, no final decisions were made," Cree said. "We expected to hear feedback from the public."
He said the Port Authority never planned on clear cutting the property. "The proposal included keeping 25 per cent of the green space on the property," said Cree.
An effort is being made to get the Environment's Committee motion on the city council agenda for this coming Monday night.