Land use planning policies in Ontario protect a great deal of farmland. The reality, however, is that we continue to lose 175 acres of farmland every day in Ontario, and we’re losing our best, most productive agricultural soils the fastest.
OFT works with the Province and key partners to encourage greater protection for agriculture and farmland through planning and policy development. We promote improved policy to make agriculture and farmland protection a top priority across the province.
Land use policy in Ontario can be complicated, and policies are interconnected as explained in our Understanding Land Use Policy Blog, so we thought we would continue to outline the other policies that impact farmland in Ontario. First up: the Greenbelt Plan and how it relates to farmland protection.
The Greenbelt Plan is a set of policies that protects farmland, countryside, and natural areas in the Greater Golden Horseshoe (the area that surrounds the Greater Toronto Area). This region is one of the fastest growing areas in North America (The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation, 2019). With the immense growth in this region, issues such as urban development and sprawl are a major threat to the natural and rural areas in the landscape.
The Greenbelt Plan was designed to protect these areas from urban sprawl and development. It helps to protect important ecosystems, natural features, and farmland from being developed, and ensures that the countryside is not fragmented or destroyed. In fact, the protected Greenbelt area spans over 2 million acres of land in Ontario, much of which is considered prime agricultural land (The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation, 2019)! The Greenbelt protects the agricultural system that provides local food to the region and jobs for thousands of people. It also protects the surrounding natural areas that provide habitat for wildlife and even species at risk.
The Greenbelt is one of the strongest tools in farmland protection in Ontario. It is an effective and important tool for farmland protection. If you would like to learn more about The Greenbelt visit their website here.
The Ontario Farmland Trust regularly gives feedback on changes that are proposed to Provincial policies and plans that can impact farmland. If you are interested in reading some of our policy submissions click here. In the meantime, stay tuned for more blog posts!
The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation. (2019). The Greenbelt. Retrieved from https://www.greenbelt.ca/about_the_greenbelt