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Windsor Ontario News / Nature & Recreation

New Ontario Ford government drops "climate change" from ministry name

WindsorOntarioNews.com Sept. 20 2018

The Ontario government has dropped “climate change” from the name of its environment ministry and put in its place “conservation and parks.”

The new ministry name is the Ministry of the Environment Conservation and Parks.

The name change came shortly after the election of the Progressive Conservative government of Doug Ford in June.

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Gordie Howe International Bridge to connect to Historic Fort Wayne

WindsorOntarioNews.com August 3 2018

Besides being a more people-friendly crossing with pathways for both pedestrians and cyclists along with motorists, the new Gordie Howe International Bridge will also take notice of its historic surroundings and provide a direct link to Detroit’s Historic Fort Wayne.

The somewhat sprawling fort – 96 acres – dates from 1845 with its original limestone barracks.

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For $750 your group can rent a beautiful five-acre camp

WindsorOntarioNews.com June 14 2018

Want a five-acre site, Lake Erie frontage, swimming pool, big kitchen, playground, cabins?

And did we mention an idyllic natural setting?

The Kiwanis Sunshine Point Camp is offering its newly renovated facility to the public for weekend rentals.

For $750 a club, organization, family reunion, wedding party or stag and doe can rent the site, located between Colchester and Kingsville, for a big get together or party.

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CAA urges motorists to practice the "Dutch Reach"

WindsorOntarioNews.com May 8 2018

It’s not a Dutch Treat but cyclists will thank motorists if they practice it.

It’s called the Dutch Reach and the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) wants to encourage motorists to practice it here just as the Dutch have long practiced it in their country.

It’s a way to prevent a common type of bike collision – “dooring” where a cyclist runs into a door inadvertently opened only a few seconds ahead of them by an errant stopped motorist.

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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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Michigan counties way down USA healthiest counties list

You’ll have go a long way down the list to find a relatively healthy Michigan county among almost 3000 counties in the USA. In fact, only a handful of Michigan counties make it into the top 500 healthiest counties. US News rated Falls Church City, Virginia, “less than 10 miles from the White House,” as the nation’s healthiest county, based on 80 indicators over 10 categories. The most “heavily weighted” criteria were health and equity, the latter assessing income, education, health and social equality “to determine how well all members of a community are afforded the opportunity to live a productive, healthy life.” The top Michigan county on the list is Grand Traverse, ranked at 233, followed by Emmet in the Lower Peninsula bordering the Mackinac Bridge at 242. These were followed by Midland (243), Washtenaw (encompassing Ann Arbor) (262). The Detroit metro area doesn’t make an appearance until Oakland County’s 269 ranking. Wayne County, Michigan’s most populous county, the seat of which is Detroit, didn’t even rank. (Photo above left shows the Guardian Bldg., HQ for Wayne County government.) The county (pop: 1,820,584) scored 33 overall vs. a shining 100 for the top-rated Falls Church City, Va. (pop: 12,332). – 6/28/2018

"Numerous" people using HG Parkway Trail - MTO

Almost two years after the Herb Gray Parkway opened – and about a year and a half after its 17 km associated Trail was inaugurated - it appears the multi-use trail is being take advantage of by walkers and cyclists. The west side trail officially opened in November of 2016, though people had been using it for months before this, after the mainly sunken Parkway opened to motorized traffic in June of that year. MTO spokeswoman Courtney Anderson says the ministry “doesn’t typically conduct counts” of the Trail but said “numerous” people are using it. A study was done last August, she said. Users were counted over a 12-hour period for seven consecutive days at three locations along the Trail. The average number of users per day was 391. – 2/5/18

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