Land Use Writ Large: Changes to Ontario’s Provincial Policy Statement

September 20, 2019 | Brenda Dyack

Land Use Writ Large: Changes to Ontario’s Provincial Policy Statement

Ontario’s Provincial Policy Statement is currently under review. The Provincial Policy Statement directs land use planning and guides municipal development for all of Ontario. Changes to the Policy Statement will impact the future of agriculture.

This September, the CFFO is focusing on the Provincial Policy Statement review during our annual Stewardship & Policy Committee series. CFFO members across the province are weighing in, online or in person, to guide our organization’s recommendations to government.

According to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the proposed changes will increase housing supply and create jobs while also “protecting the environment and resources including farmland, natural resources…and water.” Government posted several questions for Ontarians, including:

  • Do the proposed policies strike the right balance? Why or why not?
  • How do these policies take into consideration the views of Ontario communities?
  • Are there any other policy changes that are needed to support key priorities for housing, job creation, and streamlining of development approvals?

CFFO is pleased to see that government has prioritized protections for Ontario’s prime agricultural and specialty crop areas. Furthermore, we’re happy to see that the proposal encourages municipalities to protect the agri-food system—the geographical continuity and economic connections of Ontario’s agri-food network.

A close reading of the Proposed Policies, however, suggests that the top priority here is supporting aggregates, mining, and housing development. We worry that today’s concerns about population growth and development pressures have outweighed the long-term need to protect our farmland and food supply.

Last week, CFFO members from the Eastern part of the province kicked off our Stewardship and Policy Committee meetings in Peterborough. Conversation turned to larger philosophical questions about land stewardship and where support for farmland protection can intersect with support for development.

We look forward to continuing the discussion over the next couple of weeks, as we prepare our response to the Provincial Policy Statement review.

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.