Making Sure the Right Uses Happen in the Right Places in Ontario’s Prime Agricultural Land
The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation and the Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance’s feedback session on OMAFRA's PPS Guidelines on Permitted Uses in Ontario's Prime Agricultural Areas attracted a crowd on March 20.
Hosting tourists at an on-farm bed and breakfast, making pies with farm apples, processing hops from neighbouring farms, and other “value-added” activities are an asset to rural communities and a treat for tourists, but understanding which of these activities are allowed where can be challenging for farmers, other rural land-owners, and municipal staff.
To respond to this challenge, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) has developed draft guidelines on what is permitted in prime agricultural areas, to help in interpreting the policies in the 2014 Provincial Policy Statement on the range of uses permitted in prime agricultural areas.
As these Guidelines closely affect farmers, municipal planners, and other municipal staff, the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation and the Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance jointly hosted a feedback session on March 20th.
The workshop was well attended by over 65 municipal planners and staff, agricultural association representatives, farmers, commodity organization representatives, and elected officials. Helma Geerts, Policy Advisor at OMAFRA, presented the three categories of permitted uses: Agricultural uses, Agriculture-related uses, and On-farm diversified uses. Participants discussed three main issues:
- On-farm diversified uses and the calculation of “limited in area”
- Mitigating settlement area expansions and the effectiveness of “to the extent feasible” language
- How to move towards a more consistent, province-wide approach to permitted uses
Are you interested in providing feedback? OMAFRA is still seeking feedback until May 13th.