The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) has released its final Guidelines on Permitted Uses in Ontario’s Prime Agricultural Areas.
These guidelines will help municipalities, decision-makers, farmers and others interpret the policies in the Provincial Policy Statement, 2014 (PPS) on the uses that are permitted within prime agricultural areas. Municipalities are required to identify and designate prime agricultural areas for protection within their Official Plans. Many communities have been seeking guidance from the Province on how to be consistent with PPS policies for prime agricultural areas that speak to:
– Supporting agricultural, on-farm diversified and agriculture-related uses,
– Removal of land from agricultural designations for new and expanding settlement areas and non-residential uses, and
– Mitigation of impacts from new or expanding non-agricultural uses.
The Ministry released a draft version of the Guidelines in February 2015 and welcomed input and discussion from municipal and agricultural stakeholders. Click here to read the draft Guidelines document from OMAFRA.
The Ontario Farmland Trust provided a submission to OMAFRA addressing the draft version of Guidelines on Permitted Uses in Ontario’s Prime Agricultural Areas. Within this submission, the Ontario Farmland Trust strongly supported the creation of this new guidance material that clarified how farmland protection policy is to be implemented and how agriculture and related economic development could be supported in protected areas. Ontario Farmland Trust expressed some concerns with the preliminary guidelines, however, and shared recommendations with the Province for inclusion of more explicit language in these guidelines that communicates expectations for the protection of farmland resources within prime agricultural areas. Click here for the Farmland Trust’s formal recommendations on the draft Guidelines for Permitted Uses in Ontario’s Prime Agricultural Areas.