On October 18, the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation co-hosted an Edge Planning workshop with the Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance in Niagara Region. Held at the Ball’s Falls Conservation Area, the workshop was attended by over 40 engaged stakeholders, including representatives from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), municipalities across the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH), private planning firms, the Ontario Landowners Association, universities and local farms.
Edge Planning refers to the tools and management strategies used to solve conflicts between adjacent urban and agricultural land uses. This issue is of particular importance in the GGH, due to the ongoing encroachment of development on farmland and projected population growth between now and 2041.
At the workshop, we heard from four impactful speakers:
- Andrew Jamieson (OMAFRA and the Normal Farm Practices Protection Board) identified common issues addressed by the Board
- Mark Head (Peel Region) talked about the importance of improving planning practices to reduce the potential for conflict between rural residents and agricultural operations
- Brooke Marshall (Halton Region) spoke about British Columbia’s experience with Edge Planning
- Jim Dyment (MHBC Planning) provided concrete planning examples
Michele Doncaster (OMAFRA) wrapped up the presentations with a provincial perspective on the opportunities that the creation of the agriculture of the agriculture system for the GGH and tools such as agriculture impact assessments will offer.
Smaller group discussions followed, delving into the best management practices for handling the urban and rural interface. The groups generated good discussion and provided a variety of opinions and thoughtful responses.
Livening up the day were two farm visits to Schenck Farms & Greenhouses and 13th Street Winery. Bill Schenck shared his experiences as a fourth generation greenhouse operator and wine-grape grower in an area experiencing ongoing development pressure. Over the years, he has dealt with the impacts of roadway infrastructure projects and noise complaints from his residential neighbours. While Bill expects that these challenges will continue, he is committed to keeping Schenck Farms in the family for generations to come.
Doug Whitty is the President of 13th Street Winery and Whitty Farms, which together offer a variety of local wines, cheeses, baked goods and other culinary delights. Choosing to embrace the changing landscape of the region, third generation farmer Doug told us about his interest in building lasting relationships with his clientele by focusing on visitor experiences. He highlighted several initiatives at 13th Street, including the construction of a new Tasting Bar and Wine Boutique.
Thanks to our speakers Andrew Jamieson, Mark Head, Brooke Marshall, Jim Dyment and Michele Doncaster for volunteering their time, and to Ball’s Falls Conservation Area, Schenck Farms & Greenhouses and Whitty Farms for hosting us!