Ontario’s Provincial Land Use Policy: Who Wins?

This week, CFFO submitted comments on government-proposed changes to Ontario’s Provincial Policy Statement (PPS). The Provincial Policy Statement directs municipal land use planning and guides municipal land development for all of Ontario. It was last updated in 2014.

This new review suggests a marked shift in priority when it comes to land use planning. Expanding housing supply and development are top of mind for 2019.

Fortunately, the draft policy does recognize that the agricultural system promotes economic prosperity. The policy recommends agricultural impact assessments and commits to “protecting agricultural resources, minimizing land use conflicts, providing opportunities to support local food, and maintaining and improving the agri-food network.”

There are several changes in the nitty gritty of implementing the PPS, however, that make us wonder how these goals can actually be accomplished. Reading between the lines, we see the agricultural system being given a back seat. Development and aggregate operations are the focus and take top priority over and above prime farmland and natural heritage preservation.

In our recommendations to government, CFFO focused on the proposed changes that could have a direct impact on farmland preservation.

For example, CFFO cautioned against the recently reduced development intensification and density rates, as well as PPS changes to allow expansion of municipal borders outside of a municipal comprehensive review.

We reminded government that farmland is a fixed—and increasingly valuable—resource. We are concerned that farmland could be paved over or aggregate resources mined without limit, thanks to subtle shifts in the PPS. For example, in too many instances what municipalities had been told they must or Shall do, have been watered down to merely what they should do in this new version. And we know where ambiguous language gets us.

We believe problems will arise when municipalities comply with PPS direction and must scramble to deal with limitless population growth. With no mechanism that enables municipalities to coordinate development plans with their neighbours, there should be no surprise when land grabs eat up the  valuable agricultural and natural heritage lands between communities.

Government has the duty of care here. The government decides how to steward all Ontario’s natural resources for the benefit of us all. Only the provincial government has the power and legislative authority to preserve our remaining stock of farmland. After all, this is the foundation of our food security. Therefore, we are urging government to consider carefully the long-term implications of such an important land use policy as the PPS.

Can they develop a policy that better balances all provincial goals? We’re counting on our provincial government to do the right thing for Ontario.


Brenda Dyack is Executive Director/Acting Director of Research & Policy 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, CKXS Chatham, and CKNX Wingham.

Posted by Brenda Dyack on October 25, 2019

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2 Comments

  • John Schwartzentruber says:

    Quote: “Government has the duty of care here. The government decides how to steward all Ontario’s natural resources for the benefit of us all. Only the provincial government has the power and legislative authority to preserve our remaining stock of farmland. After all, this is the foundation of our food security.”

    A brief review of modern history would contest this statement – which blatantly expresses Marxism – and show that it is patently false in its entirety.

    There is not one example of a country that has successfully embraced Marxist-style socialism to the lasting benefit of its people. In fact, the opposite is demonstrably true – hunger, need and deprivation inevitably follow communist ideology and civilization degenerates into pathetic chaos.

    Food security and government control are historically the antithesis of each other.

    I request that the above quoted statement be placed on the agenda for next week’s Policy meeting under “Local Concerns”.

    “Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it.”
    ― Thomas Sowell

  • Nancy Albright says:

    We have had a municipal visit by people who are talking about the PPS and they identified areas in our township that should be designated agricultural land. Our township has very carefully not designated agricultural land but calls it residential – rural leaving us able to apply for severances for new buildings or new purposes. When the people who spoke to us told us what area they were talking about we just gasped in surprise. When asked how they made this designation they said they looked at satellite views – the only problem with that is that crops and soil types are not really visually different at that level. The area they designated is mostly trees and wetlands with a few acres of cropland in between. We pointed out that our township is mostly large tracts of rocks, trees and water with a bit of agricultural land in small pockets. We have no Class 1 land, little class 2, mostly the little available land is classes 4 and 5. This is not in any way comparable with the land that has gone and is going under pavement and quarries.

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