(Photo courtesy of the University of Windsor)(Photo courtesy of the University of Windsor)

Parks Canada getting local help to create more national urban parks

While progress to found a national urban park in Windsor continues, a team from the University of Windsor will spend the next two years helping Parks Canada develop a policy to create more across the country.

Three faculty members have established Canada's first research, teaching, and community engagement hub, providing Parks Canada with expert advice as it develops its National Urban Parks Policy, the mechanism to create new national urban parks.

Launched on April 1 with a $1.2-million contribution from Parks Canada and matching funds from the university, Healthy Headwaters Lab Director Doctor Catherine Febria, Faculty of Integrative Biology Indigenous Knowledge Keeper Clint Jacobs, and Centre for Cities Director Doctor Anneke Smit will lead it.

"While Parks Canada continues to pursue co-management agreements with local rights-holding First Nations, the table will complement those efforts by engaging with urban Indigenous populations and First Nations across the traditional territory," said Jacobs.

Febria will measure biodiversity and water quality throughout the Ojibway Prairie Complex and Traditional Territory, and mentor Indigenous Stewarts in the park.

Smit will provide research on inclusive and sustainable city-building and equitable place-making.

"How does a national urban park fit into a city? That's the question the Centre for Cities will explore," said Smit. "The development of the park needs to honour the diverse histories and experiences of all residents in Windsor and Essex County. Through engagement and collaboration with a wide range of community partners, we will work to ensure the Ojibway National Urban Park will both help protect and foster access to nature in the city."

"The National Urban Parks Program represents the next evolution for Parks Canada, whose history over 110 years has provided Canadians a system of national parks, national historic sites, and national marine conservation areas," said Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault. "The program will be grounded in science, Indigenous knowledge, and local perspectives."

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