By Nathan Stevens
April 27, 2012
The city of Waterloo recently approved its new official plan with a focus on intensification of existing built areas. The tone of the plan is a strong encouragement that some cities are seriously considering the implications of expanding their borders and taking land out of food production. The Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario has always stood for the preservation of our best agricultural land for agriculture and takes this as an overall positive step forward.
The new official plan is more focused on urban intensification rather than outward expansion. It sets the form, extent, nature and rate of growth and change within the municipality through to the year 2029. There is room for incremental review and a change in direction if it proves necessary, but the overall direction has been set.
The plan acknowledges that the city has a limited supply of vacant land for future urban growth. Therefore, land within the city must be used more efficiently to meet the population and economic growth targets of the city. The height and density of built-up areas will intensify over time. For example, the Uptown Waterloo Urban Growth Centre will continue to be intensified for a wide variety of economic, housing and recreational uses as the heart of the city.
However, this focus on intensification does not mean that no land will be developed over the next seventeen years. The rural and agricultural land within the Urban Area Boundary will be developed during this period. Moreover, agriculture and agriculture-related uses within the Urban Area Boundary will be discouraged from starting new enterprises and expansion will not be permitted. It is clear from the outset that these areas are meant for other uses in the long-term.
The city of Waterloo’s new plan is an example of a city targeting development within its urban boundary rather than seeking new lands to incorporate and eventually develop into suburbs. The Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario is encouraged to see a forward-thinking city focus on intensification of the existing urban area to meet its growth targets.
Nathan Stevens is the Interim Manager and Director of Policy Development for the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario. The CFFO Commentary represents the opinions of the writer and does not necessarily represent CFFO policy. The CFFO Commentary is heard weekly on CFCO Chatham, CKNX Wingham, and UCB Canada radio stations in Chatham, Belleville, Bancroft, Brockville and Kingston and in Brantford and Woodstock. It is also found on the CFFO website:www.christianfarmers.org. CFFO is supported by 4,200 family farmers across Ontario.