Ontario Agriculture

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The CFFO Commentary: Competing Interests Arise in Land Use Planning Discussions

By Nathan Stevens
September 24, 2010


Good land use planning is critical for the success of agriculture. And with the current review of the Provincial Policy Statement underway, talks are heating up between farming organizations and those representing other interests in land use planning.

The CFFO is currently in dialogue with a collection of environmental groups, including Ontario Nature, Ducks Unlimited and Ecojustice, regarding long-term stability in the countryside. Our organization wants to ensure that agriculture fits within their picture of sustainability.

Environmental groups are pushing for sustainability as a key pillar of land use planning in Ontario. This means that land use needs to reflect the ecological carrying capacity of a region. By extension, regional plans need to reflect this priority as well, with reasonable population targets. From an urban perspective this means a focus on smart growth and the promotion of green infrastructure as key tenants of the Provincial Policy Statement.

Furthermore, there is a need to establish a hierarchy of priorities within the PPS so that when conflicts emerge between different land-use policies, there will be prevailing priorities in the decision-making process. The likely end result of this approach would be that economic interests would not trump ecological integrity when development and planning decisions are being made.

Specific to agriculture, these groups are talking about the promotion and protection of farms that make use of environmentally beneficial farm practices, preserve biodiversity and natural heritage systems, and encourage and facilitate local food production and distribution.

The CFFO is dialoguing with these groups, voicing our concern in a number of key areas, including the preservation of farmland from urban development and specialty crop areas from aggregate extraction. Furthermore, the CFFO wants the province to focus on brownfield redevelopment as a means to reduce the pressure on urban expansion into agricultural land.

As the Provincial Policy Statement discussions continue, it’s important for agricultural groups to be in dialogue with groups having different interests. To that end, the CFFO is engaging with these groups to develop a position that strengthens sustainable agriculture in the long run.

Nathan Stevens is the Research and Policy Advisor for the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario. The CFFO Commentary represents the opinions of the writer and does not necessarily represent CFFO policy. It can be heard weekly on CKNX Wingham and CFCO Chatham, Ontario and is archived on the CFFO website: www.christianfarmers.org. The CFFO is supported by 4,300 farm families across Ontario

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