A key piece of land located at the corner of Russell and Mill Streets in Sandwich Towne has been sold to a private purchaser.
Mike Dorian of Clinton Township, Michigan, recently sold his 13-hectares of property to a local buyer without conditions. The purchase was made after ongoing discussions over the expropriation of his land with the City of Windsor ended.
The property was part a proposed site for a land exchange between the City of Windsor and the Windsor Port Authority for the preservation of Ojibway Shores.
Dorian had agreed to expropriate his land and trade it to Windsor Port Authority in exchange for the public preservation of Ojibway Shores.
According to Steve Salmons, President and CEO of Windsor Port Authority, after an evaluation of the site, the port decided to back out of the deal approximately one year ago.
"Once both parties started, you know, lifting the carpet and doing the numbers, it just wasn't a good decision for either party," said Salmon.
Salmons said Windsor Port Authority no longer felt the property was economically attractive due to the amount of enhancements and the money it would cost.
The land exchange had been in the works since 2018.
The City of Windsor were in negotiations with Windsor Port Authority to eventually take ownership of Ojibway Shores. The 13-hectare industrial site is the last undeveloped piece of undeveloped property in Sandwich Towne.
According to NDP Windsor West MP Brian Masse, the City of Windsor had expressed interest in expropriating the land from Dorian, to exchange it with Windsor Port Authority for ownership of Ojibway Shores.
Despite the intentions of the city, Brian Masse did not think it was a good plan to begin with.
"I don't think tax-payers should pay for land they already own. That is the Port. The Port is a Crown Agency. It's like the post office."
Instead, Masse had been pushing to preserve the Ojibway Shores land for a national urban park. In 2019, Masse told CBC a national urban park would be the most comprehensive and permanent way to protect Ojibway Shores.
"We have about 900 acres [364 hectares] of property that could be united together as a park system," said Masse.
Masse is currently pushing for a national urban park to move forward.
"I'm reaching out to the government to access its resources to finish Ojibway Shores and transfer that property to Environment Canada," said Masse.
"Second to that is, express interest in the Dorian property and start investigating that to keep it as a public space."
'Sense of loss'
The recently sold property from Dorion has created concern for some community members in Sandwich Towne.
Steve Salmons says community members had expressed interest in the land for two reasons; open access to the water way and it is in direct view of the Duff-Baby House.
"The property has been well maintained over these years. It's a beautiful green space and I think there was a sense of loss to the community that they would lose this green space or never be allowed or permitted again to have access and reach the waterfront," said Salmons.
"It was a tough decision to give that property up, but on the balance this board's commitment to community and balance, it was the right decision," said Salmons.
The property sale does not close until September.