- Published on Thursday, 06 October 2016 23:53
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CALL TO ACTION -- OCTOBER 31st DEADLINE!
Co-ordinated Review: Feedback on Proposed Revised Plans
Your opportunity to speak up in favour of protecting more of Ontario's farmland and water resources has arrived! Food & Water First, along with dozens of other like-minded groups and thousands of Ontarians, participated in the government's recent review of the Greenbelt, Niagara Escarpment, Oak Ridges Moraine and Greater Golden Horseshoe plans. The province has acknowledged the public wants these plans expanded and strengthened, and has outlined its own proposals. This is your chance to have your say. You must do so by the end of this month - October 31st!
Food & Water First has made it easy. We've written a template letter (in PDF format, and also below) expressing our views. Please add your own thoughts and expertise, then follow the instructions! Please share the letter with family and friends before October 31st!
Instructions to submit comments:
- Copy and paste the letter below OR
- Download the pdf format letter
- Go to: http://www.mah.gov.on.ca/Page14851.aspx
- Fill in your name and information as requested
- Write, paste or attach your comments as indicated
- Review and submit
This is our letter. Feel free to copy and add your own comments.
I am a supporter of the Food & Water First movement and am grateful for the opportunity to comment on the province’s Co-ordinated Land Use proposals for the Greenbelt, Niagara Escarpment, Oak Ridges Moraine and Greater Golden Horseshoe Growth plans. Food & Water First is the legacy of the Stop the Mega Quarry campaign, the grassroots citizens’ movement that defeated the proposed Highland Mega Quarry in 2012. The application for a 2,300-acre quarry on 6,500-acres of Class 1 soil at the headwaters of five river systems exposed significant flaws in current land-use planning. It is why I believe the four provincial plans should be strengthened, so that our rare agricultural soils and water resources are better protected for our economic and food security.
As stated in the Discussion Document for the Co-ordinated Review, southern Ontario is home to unique natural resources:
“It has some of Canada’s most important and productive farmland. Its fertile soil, moderate climate and abundant water resources support agricultural production that cannot be duplicated elsewhere in the province or country.”
The statistics are sobering:
1. A mere 0.5 percent of Canada is comprised of Class 1 soil (the rarest).
2. Just over ½ of that 0.5 percent of Class I soil is in Ontario.
3. So far, we have lost nearly 20 percent of this soil due to development and
other non-farming activities.
4. Ontario is losing up to 350 acres of farmland (not just Class 1) each day.
Ontario boasts the largest agri-food sector in the country. It employs 740,000 people and contributes $34-billion to the economy each year. Nearly one-half of Ontario’s fruit farms and one-fifth of its vegetable farms are within the Greenbelt, a critical agricultural resource. Therefore, I support tighter protections for agricultural lands within all four provincial plans and a robust Agricultural System as proposed by the government:
Prime agricultural areas, including specialty crop areas, will be designated in accordance with mapping identified by the Province and these areas will be protected for long-term use for agriculture.
I also strongly recommend:
Applications for aggregate extraction must be accompanied by an Agricultural Impact Assessment.
Pits and quarries should not be allowed on Class 1, 2, 3 or 4 soils (prime farmland) within the provincial plans.
There should be a ban on any aggregate extraction below the water table.
The proposed strengthening of the four provincial plans also includes better protections for Ontario’s water resources. I fully support enhanced protection for key water sources as outlined in the proposed plan revisions.
Stronger farmland and water protection policies within strengthened provincial plans are also essential to curbing sprawl that devours prime farmland. Once food-producing land is paved over and developed, it’s gone forever. The government must not preside over the permanent loss of the only agricultural soils capable of growing food and key to Canada’s largest agri-food sector.
In summary, I believe there is a tremendous opportunity for the province to implement visionary land-use policies that will ensure a positive legacy for Ontario. I urge the government to strengthen the four provincial plans and ensure agricultural lands, water resources and the natural environment within these plans are protected in perpetuity.