The Ontario Federation of Agriculture supports the restriction of residential lot creation in prime agricultural areas
By Kate Ayers
Land use policies and planning are important to preserve the province’s agricultural land for food production.
Ontario’s provincial policy statement (PPS) does not permit the creation of new non-farm residential lots on prime agricultural land, a February Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) release said. The province enacted the PPS in 1996 and officials updated this document last year.
Municipalities use the PPS as the minimum standard on land use policies, the release said. So, local governments cannot make land use regulations that are less restrictive than ones in the PPS.
The OFA supports the province’s decision not to permit severances for non-farm residential land use.
Evidence supports the benefits of keeping productive land in agricultural use.
For example, scattered rural residential development increases the costs bore by municipalities and the property tax revenue from these lots does not cover the cost of providing them with municipal services, the release said.
People who move to the country from urban areas “want the same services that they can get in the city but some of those amenities aren’t available in the countryside,” Larry Davis, a farmer in Brant County and a director for the OFA, said to Farms.com.
And “rural houses cost more money to service than a house in town.”
Minimum distance separation also becomes an issue when non-farming developments are established in ag areas, the release said. This provision inhibits farmers in the area from expanding their livestock or poultry operations.
“If a farmer wants to expand or build a barn for agricultural purposes, he or she might not be able to do it,” said Davis.
Residential development “really restricts agriculture.”
Another potential issue with residential developments in ag areas is nuisance complaints.
“People from the city might not understand country life – the smells, noise, dust and flies. And tractors, wagons and combines on the road,” Davis said.
Producers may need to manage such complaints from new neighbours who are unfamiliar with farming practices.
And since less than 5 per cent of Ontario’s land is in ag production, the province should protect this dwindling resource, the release said.
“The Ontario government supports the OFA’s objective of ‘producing prosperity in Ontario,’” Davis said.
“We want to see populated areas grow up, not out. In Toronto, for example, the city can’t expand it’s borders anymore so companies are building up and saving farmland.”
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