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Recently, my interest in land use planning has led me to researching the issue of leapfrog development.

Leapfrog development is when development skips over vacant land directly adjacent to developed urban areas in favour of land further away, that is often not as expensive.

In Ontario, leapfrog development has led to increased development in unprotected areas outside of the Greenbelt1. This leapfrog development can lead to the fragmentation of our agricultural land base, which may disrupt agricultural activity and impact the long-term viability of our agricultural sector. The effects of leapfrog development will impact future generations.

However, leapfrog development doesn’t just pose issues in Ontario, it actually occurs anywhere that urban development takes place. A case study looking at the city of Kelowna, British Columbia, observed leapfrogging of the Agricultural Land Reserve, a zone in British Columbia that recognizes agriculture as the most important use of the land2. This act of leapfrogging has largely resulted in urban sprawl across the region2. This continues to be observed in outlying hillsides surrounding the region, where suburban development persists2.

Leapfrog development can lead, and has led, to a significant loss of farmland in Ontario. To help prevent this, we need strong, wide-spread protections for all farmland put into place.

OFT regularly provides comment on provincial land-use planning policy issues to help promote the protection of all of Ontario’s farmland. To read some of our policy recommendations, click here.


  1. Vyn, Richard J. (2012). Examining for Evidence of the Leapfrog Effect in the Context of Strict Agricultural Zoning. Land Economics, 88(3), 457-477.
  2. Grifone, Edward. (2017). Agricultural Land Preservation and Urban Development in the New Fringe: A Case Study of Small Lot Farming in Kelowna, British Columbia [Unpublished master’s thesis]. University of British Columbia.