by Mark Reusser
Vice President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture
Ontario is a vast province, but only about five percent of the total land base is capable of supporting agricultural activities. Farmland preservation is a top priority for the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), and we work continuously to keep not only our prime agricultural land, but also lower capability soils in production for food, fibre and fuel.
OFA opposes any non-agricultural uses in prime agriculture areas and actively advocates that non-agricultural industrial and commercial land use is kept within permanent urban settlement boundaries.
Regular submissions to land use planning reviews are part of OFA’s ongoing work to prevent the loss of Ontario farmland. OFA recently commented on two land use policy proposals on the proposed Land Needs Assessment Methodology for the Greater Golden Horseshoe and the proposed expansion of the Greenbelt to protect water.
In both of our submissions OFA restated four land use policy recommendations that were included in our previous submission to the Coordinated Land Use Planning Review. OFA’s recommendations included establishing permanent boundaries for settlements, implementing mandatory and non-negotiable targets for urban intensification and future development and adopt a province-wide policy to distribute and accommodate uniform urban growth.
When it comes to the Ontario government’s proposal to expand the Greenbelt for the purpose of protecting water, OFA’s submission reminds policymakers that our province is already governed by at least eight legislations that address water protection. Without evidence to demonstrate that water protection can only be ensured by expanding the Greenbelt, OFA does not support this proposal at this time.
Responsible land use planning and policies are essential to the preservation of Ontario’s farmland and valuable water resources. Ontario is losing an average of 175 acres of agricultural land every day. We can’t afford this level of loss. That’s why OFA will continue to advocate, using our policy and planning recommendations that recognize the true value of Ontario’s farmland.
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