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Windsor Ontario News / Nature & Recreation

Group shows that 'Phrag' can be beat

WindsorOntarioNews.com November 10 2017

Phragmites is the kind of invasive species that might make property owners as well as municipal governments throw up their hands in immediate defeat.

Why attack such a seemingly indestructible foe?

The reed, which was exported to Canada from Eurasia and first appeared in the 1990's along the St. Lawrence River, is now a hugely pervasive species, often dominating shorelines and roadways in Essex County.

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Why is there only one Open Streets Windsor recreational event this year?

WindsorOntarioNews.com August 11 2017

The popular first ever Open Streets event had two such dates last year.

But this year there is only one, on Sunday Sept. 17 – why is that?

It’s because last year’s events – held on July 17 and September 18 - were pilot projects.

“As a pilot project we didn't have any expectations on whether there would be any future events,” City of Windsor spokeswoman Mary Rodgers said.

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Latest in accommodation coming this October to Point Pelee National Park

WindsorOntarioNews.com July 7 2017

The newest thing in camping accommodation will be available for use this October – and year round – at Pt. Pelee National Park.

Some 24 so-called oTENTiks – a combination rustic cabin and tent – are still under construction and will be available for rent Oct. 5th.

The oTENTik is proving highly popular at numerous other national parks, according to the man who came up with the unique outdoor residence, Ghislain Rousseau.

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Michigan has the longest state - designated trail in the United States

WindsorOntarioNews.com April 21 2017

It’s the longest state-designated cycling and hiking trail in the United States.

And it’s across the river from us in Michigan.

It’s called the Iron Belle Trail, named for its terminuses – Ironwood in the far western part of the Upper Peninsular, and Belle, for Belle Isle in Detroit.

It’s more than 2000 miles long and is still a work in progress, though two-thirds of it has been completed.

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A Spring opening is set for Essex County's second longest activity trail

WindsorOntarioNews.com February 23 2017

The county’s latest rails-to-trails cycling and hiking trail will be open this spring, linking the town of Amherstburg and Essex and intersecting with the Chrysler Canada Greenway.

It’s named after Cypher Systems, a local community-minded, decades-old insurance company and major donor - $250,000 - to the trail, also giving it exclusive naming rights.

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Windsor's cricket clubs: vigorous but they could use a little more support

WindsorOntarioNews.com February 3 2017

Cricket as a sport may float under the surface for many Windsor residents but for the city’s South Asian community the sport is as popular as hockey is for other Canadians.

“Cricket is a really popular sport in India, it’s just like ice hockey here,” Bhagwant Singh, who has sponsored one of the city’s several cricket clubs, says.

“Like, every kid in the family, they play cricket,” Singh, a realtor who has backed the Windsor Dominion Cricket Club.

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With cottage, ERCA is getting into the accommodation business

WindsorOntarioNews.com Dec 7 2016

The next time you book your summer cottage it could be through the Essex Region Conservation Authority.

The authority is building its first cottage rental at Holiday Beach on Lake Erie and if it proves a hit, more cottages could follow at the recreation area in Amherstburg.

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Volunteer rescuers of the waves

WindsorOntarioNews.com October 4 2016

They’re the water equivalent of the volunteer fire department.

For the past four years the Colchester Guardian Rescue has been assisting the Canadian Coast Guard on a great many emergency missions mainly in Lake Erie between Harrow and Pelee Island.

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High river levels? It's because Detroit River isn't a real river

WindsorOntarioNews.com August 19 2016

Drivers or walkers along the Detroit River this summer might be seeing something that doesn’t jibe with our weather conditions – unusually high river levels.

The reason is that the Detroit River in many ways is not a real river.

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Devonshire Mall's native gardens a first for Canadian shopping malls

WindsorOntarioNews.com July 14 2016

It’s considered the first such green garden at a Canadian shopping mall.

And it keeps growing and growing.

Devonshire Mall embarked on its native plants gardens program four years ago, replacing bland boring grass with native Carolinian plants in three sections – the latest being in front of Chapters – all facing Howard Ave., at the mall.

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Parkway project shows that concrete and endangered species can co-exist

WindsorOntarioNews.com May 31 2016

The Rt. Hon. Herb Gray Parkway, which has been open a year, is precedent-setting in a number of ways, not least of which is how a $1.4 billion construction project has been able to coexist with some of the rarest plant and animal species in Canada.

Most people know about the black snake fencing that was installed before construction actually began.

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Hard to destroy mighty Phragmite

WindsorOntarioNews.com April 27 2016

There’s really nothing to like about Invasive Phragmites, those tall brown often dried out reeds that are an all too common sight along roadsides and riverbanks.

They outcompete native species, provide poor wildlife habitat, are prone to fire because of their dry stalks, and grow to such a height they can obstruct views from motorists.

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"Flex street" concept greeted by councillors with doubt, enthusiasm

WindsorOntarioNews.com March 30 2016

A “flex street” may be all well and good, and one Windsor city councillor is wholeheartedly embracing the idea.

But in London, where its council almost unanimously recently endorsed turning downtown’s Dundas Street into a flex street, one councillor has reservations.

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Call campaign cycling for dummies

WindsorOntarioNews.com February 10 2016

Call it cycling for dummies.

But then again given the way many cyclists drive that might be the perfect description of them.

The City of Windsor will be launching a public education campaign this spring to state – or reinforce – the obvious: cyclists should be driving in the direction of traffic and not contravening very simple road regulations.

The city standing committee on environment, transportation and public safety this month will be reviewing a report that calls for the campaign, which likely will be adopted and put into radio and print ads and city pamphlets including the summer Activity Guide.

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Spot the springing winter insect

WindsorOntarioNews.com January 18 2016

It’s winter – spot the insects!

Or at least one type of insect.

Should you brave the elements, particularly on a milder winter day, it’s possible to actually see one type of insect moving along in the snow.

It’s what’s known as the Snow Flea or Springtail (above left).

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Despite declining interest Pheasant Hunt is still generating revenue

WindsorOntarioNews.com November 30 2015

The number of hunters taking part in the annual Pelee Island Pheasant Hunt has been on the decline, from as high as 2100 or higher in the early 1990s to 946 this year.

The hunt is actually several hunts - the regular three two-day hunts in late October and early November and then the four three-day “clean up” hunts over the past three weeks and into early December.

At one time all three main hunts used to get sold out but not now.

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City building methane gas barrier around west side's Malden Park

WindsorOntarioNews.com October 2 2015

The City of Windsor is installing a barrier to prevent methane gas from migrating from the decades-old dormant Malden landfill - now Malden Park - on the city’s west side.

“It’s just plastic physical barrier,” the city’s manager of environmental quality, Paul Drca says.

The work, to be completed by the end of November, requires a trench to be dug around the perimeter, and the plastic sheet installed “from the surface to the water table,” Drca says.

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A return to traditional concrete sidewalks

You know those fancy sidewalks that cities and towns installed over the past few decades to give their downtowns or business districts an historic look? They’re passé. The Town of Amherstburg installed the red brick sidewalks on its downtown but now is planning to remove them. Why? The bricks are becoming dislodged, creating hazards and in turn lawsuits. The town has set aside more than $90,000 for the work. The River Town Times quotes Eric Chamberlain, the town’s manager of roads and fleet, in a report to council this spring, as saying the sidewalks are “settling,” creating a “safety hazard and thus attracting liability.” The Amherstburg2 website quotes, apparently from the report: “For the 3 year period of 2013 to 2016 the Town received a total of 8 trip and fall claims on municipal sidewalks and has paid out $10,940.99 in investigation expenses to date… The Town is also in litigation for two outstanding sidewalk trip and falls claims with damages totaling $1,450,000.” Ironically, the faux red brick historically-looking sidewalks will be replaced with, well, the traditional concrete kind.– 24/7/17

$600,000+ for lands to buffer natural areas

Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) has spent $660,000 acquiring lands to “buffer” existing natural areas along Dolson Road, which curves between Iler Rd. and County Rd. 50 in the municipality of Essex. ERCA general manager Richard Wyma said the agency “leveraged” local funds with a federal grant to acquire the lands, the aim being “to help buffer Holiday Beach and Big Creek.” Tree planting has begun and a final restoration plan is in the works. “There are some lower areas and an existing pond, we may develop those into wetland, we may restore the site with some prairie planting, in addition to tree planting,” Wyma said. – 9/6/17

Colchester Harbour site undergoing renovations

The community building site at Colchester Harbour will be undergoing some renovations this spring and early summer. The $115,000 project will see construction of a new retaining wall and concrete ramp. It will connect the upper parking lot to the building’s second floor and include guards and railings. There will also be new landscaping and a viewing area “to enhance people looking over the lake,” town community services director Doug Sweet said. Bezaire & Associates Landscape Architect designed the project and the tender is out now for bids from a contractor. The upstairs restaurant closed five years ago but the snack bar continues in operation. The restaurant space is being converted into a room rental, Sweet said. The snack bar won’t be impeded by construction. The June Walleye Derby won’t be affected. Sweet said officials had hoped the project would have been completed "before May” but now will likely be finished by mid-July. – 12/5/17

- Photo: Anne's Retreat Villa, Harrow - HomeAway

Innovative Detroit beach would have no water access

An “urban beach” anyone? A beach with no water access is part of a newly-imagined plan for the Motor City’s east riverfront. The beach would be similar to Toronto’s downtown Sugar Beach (pictured), which has plenty of sand and permanent umbrellas but no water access. The Detroit beach is part of a major plan unveiled last month for further extensive development of Detroit’s waterfront, essentially the area east of the Renaissance Center. There would be no water access because of river is too deep, too cold and moves to fast. That still wouldn’t likely deter people from coming out and enjoying a day on the sand in the sun. A related boardwalk would feature a food and drink concession named for the 1930s notorious Purple Gang, with food linked to the era. – 7/4/17

Point Pelee beach, visitor centre upgrades

Significant infrastructure renewal is taking place at Pt. Pelee and visitors this year “may encounter one or more construction zones or reduced services,” Parks Canada says. The Northwest Beach is expected to reopen after restoration of 8000 square metres of dune habitat. There’s also new washroom and change facilities, a covered pavilion and kids’ play area. The Group Campground and Henry Community Youth Camp will have 24 more “oTentik” tent-cabin combo (pictured) along with washroom upgrades. The visitor centre has updated its audio-visual, there's new seating, and a new shuttle waiting area. But the park road is under reconstruction. “During construction, access to park facilities will continue, however you can expect delays,” Parks Canada says. – 9/3/17

Changing demographics call for updated change rooms

The well-used Gino and Liz Marcus community centre pool on the city’s east side is constructing a family change room to accommodate an array of family-oriented programs. As well, kids and adults with special needs also require assistance “which can be more difficult to accommodate with only male and female change rooms,” Jen Knights, manager of the city’s aquatics services department, says. “With a wide mix of family structures including single parent families and same gender parents, having a family change room has become more important for the safety and comfort of the participants,” she says. The $100,000 project has a completion date of the fall. Meanwhile the city has put out a RFP for a concession to provide new beverage services at downtown’s sprawling Adventure Bay aquatic centre. Knights says the RFP includes options of liquor or non-liquor services. A report returns to city council this spring. – 21/2/17

City's new artificial mulch is long lasting, has clean look

Mulch of a different kind has been showing up around Windsor, specifically on Bruce Avenue alongside the Windsor International Aquatic and Training Centre. It’s good looking, artificial, and designed to last a lot longer than the natural version. “It doesn’t fade, it allows the water through,” says Windsor parks department’s Denise Kalas. “There’s a wearability factor. Whereas mulch must be replaced every so many years because it breaks down, this stuff doesn’t break down.” It’s made of rubber from recycled tires, attached together with a special glue manufactured in the United States. “It makes it so that the rubber mulch adheres to each other but still allows the water to go through,” Kalas says. It has a perfectly even look. A layer of fabric is laid at the bottom, then granular is spread and then the rubber applied “almost like a liquid form, and then they trowel it out evenly like cement,” even curing the same way, Kalas says. The same mulch has also been applied along Erie Street. – 26/1/17

For 2017, free admission to all Parks Canada sites

To celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, in 2017 Parks Canada is offering free admission to its 46 national parks and 171 historic sites as well as marine conservation areas. But you must have a Discovery Pass, available now by ordering online or at Parks Canada sites beginning January 1. Normally admission is $9.80 for adults, $8.30 for seniors and $4.90 for youths. The passes will be available throughout the entire year. The fees, however, will not cover camping, firewood, enhanced guided tours or reservations. Essex County sites include Point Pelee National Park and Fort Malden National Historic Site. Meanwhile, for people looking to get a jump on spring and summer camping the Parks Canada reservation system will open in January. – 20/12/16

Runners can overwinter between the Zombie-Chase and Le Chocolat runs

They may do it elsewhere. But don’t expect any major winter competitive or fun runs in Windsor – Essex County. This Saturday’s Zombie-Chase will wrap it up for the season, says Chris Uszynski of Running Flat, which organizes the area’s most high profile runs. “Thanksgiving weekend is a great excuse to not stick around the dinner table and enjoy the Detroit River at dusk,” he says. Uszynski eschews – or should that be “e’shoes” – later runs in the season. “I don't do late fall winter or early spring runs,” he says. “I humorously tell people that either you hate your volunteers or your participants or both when you plan a winter event. You never know what the weather will bring and it is very difficult to get volunteers on a great day never mind with six inches of snow.” But, runners shouldn't fear, come spring the largest run, of a kind, kicks off the season May 7. “Le Chocolat is now the largest chocolate run in Canada,” Uszynski says. And, yes, participants get chocolate and wine. – 6/10/16

Could Open Streets end Detroit's mean streets?

Windsorites who couldn’t get enough of this city’s first annual Open Streets – two Sundays this summer when major thoroughfares were car-restricted and open only to pedestrians – might just want to head across the river and check out the Motor City’s version of Open Streets. The first of two such events happens this weekend along the city’s west Vernor Ave. and Michigan Ave., home to what used to be Tiger Stadium. One pointed difference from the Windsor Open Streets is that officials are placing emphasis on having pedestrians patronizing businesses along the route, often ignored by people whizzing past in their cars. The event will also wind through the city’s growing and trendy Corktown district, home to many new restaurants and bars. Detroit’s event takes place this Sunday and again Oct. 2, from noon to 5 pm. And for Windsorites, who fear Detroit’s notorious mean streets, the event just might help change their attitude. – 22/9/16

Check first before picking Water Lilies and other plants

Feel like plucking a gorgeous water lily from the River Canard? Maybe you should check with the proper authority first. Many local natural areas are Crown land or privately owned and others come under jurisdiction of the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA). In the last case you can’t remove or destroy any vegetation without the agency’s permission, said Dan Lebedyk, ERCA conservation biologist. You could be fined otherwise. “We would only grant a permit to do so if the removal was for legitimate reasons such as academic research or invasive species control,” he said. What about a waterway like River Canard? “Areas such as in the middle of the Canard River may be Crown Land or they may in fact be privately owned,” Lebedyk said. “Permission should always be sought from the individual landowner (i.e., the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry for Crown Land, the individual private landowner for private lands) before removing any material.” – 12/9/16

Parkway plants coming in quite nicely, MTO says

A year ago it was virtually barren. Today the landscape along the Herb Gray Parkway is filling-in very quickly, creating the kind of native Carolinian plant growth envisioned by Parkway planners. “The vegetated portions of the Parkway corridor seeded with native seed mixes are generally progressing as expected,” Garfield Dales, director of MTO’s Windsor Border Initiatives Implementation Group, says. The seed mixes contained tallgrass prairie species that typically require between two and five years to establish themselves. But plants such as Black Eyed Susan, Grey Headed Coneflower and Evening Primrose are showing “indicators of successful establishment” already. The trees and shrubs also planted are “showing good signs of growth,” Dales said. The planted areas are being routinely watered especially during this dry summer. And there are inevitable weeds. But Dales said these “will over time be replaced through ecological succession by wildflowers and a range of tallgrass species.” The other issue is invasive species – ragweed, common reed, purple loosestrife and others – which are the object of “careful monitoring and treatment control.” – 19/7/16