The Greenbelt Plan is a set of policies that protects farmland, countryside, and natural areas in the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) (the area that surround the Greater Toronto Area). The GGH is one of the fastest growing regions in North America, and as such, the countryside in this region faces extremely high pressures from urban development and other non-agricultural land-uses. To help combat these pressures and protect farmland and natural habitat in the GGH, the provincial government introduced the Greenbelt Plan in 2005. If you would like to learn more about the Greenbelt Plan and how it relates to farmland protection, click here to read our blog about the Greenbelt Plan.
Recently, the provincial government proposed the first ever expansion of the Greenbelt Plan. This expansion could protect thousands of acres of at-risk farmland and natural habitat.
Expanding the Greenbelt will provide additional protections for farmland and natural resources in areas where it is most at-risk and help enhance the long-term viability of Ontario’s agricultural sector. OFT recently submitted suggestions for the expansion of the Greenbelt and had two key recommendations that would be beneficial to Ontario’s farmlands and agricultural sector.
First, OFT recommended that the Agricultural System that has been identified and mapped in the GGH be included in the expansion of the Greenbelt in its entirety. Not only will this protect a significant amount of farmland, but it will also protect the connectivity of the agricultural land base in the area and safeguard the region’s agricultural sector.
Second, OFT recommended that farmers and farmland owners are consulted during the expansion of the Greenbelt. Farmers and farmland owners are direct stakeholders in this issue and should be consulted throughout the expansion process.
OFT is excited about the potential impact that the Greenbelt expansion may have on farmland in the GGH. OFT believes that right now the Province has the opportunity to make a bold commitment to Ontario’s farmland and become leaders in farmland conservation in Canada.