The Christian Farmers Federation of Agriculture has joined like-minded groups opposed to Premier Doug Ford’s de-regulation so urban development can proceed on protected acreages.
Ford’s government is using Minister’s Zoning Orders to expedite zoning decisions that negate municipal land use plans and can allow development without environmental assessments.
In the Waterloo Region, politicians and staff are also pointing out that the Ford government’s expansion of the Greenbelt west actually decreases protection of those lands.
The Waterloo Region long ago adopted land use plans and policies that are more restrictive than the Greenbelt’s.
Ontario Nature, the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario, the National Farmers Union–Ontario, Ontario Farmland Trust and Environmental Defence have written an open letter to Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark outlining their concerns.
They say farmland is the foundation of Ontario’s agri-food sector, which employs more than 860,000 people and contributes more than $47 billion to the province’s gross domestic product.
Farmland, once paved, is lost forever. It must be protected through informed land use planning.
Municipal Zoning Orders that take prime farmland out of production will lead to the loss of agriculture-related businesses and jeopardize the province’s food security, the CFFO said.
Development on these lands also jeopardizes water quality and the health of our watersheds, they said, and paved lands increase runoff, erosion and contamination of rivers and lakes.
Good land use planning requires local input to carefully balance the needs of the environment, the economy and the community, the groups wrote.
Expedited Ministerial Zoning Orders eliminate democratic efforts to protect a community’s long-term resources and should be scrapped, they argue.