Farmland at risk: How better land use planning could help ensure a healthy future for agriculture in the Greater Golden Horseshoe
The Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) is Canada’s most populated and fastest-growing region. The region’s population was 8.7 million in 2011, and the most ambitious projections say it will hit almost 13.5 million by 2041. Meanwhile, the number of jobs in the GGH is forecast to rise from 4.5 million to 6.3 million. Rapid growth will exacerbate existing challenges such as traffic congestion, pressure on infrastructure, loss of agricultural land and natural spaces, water quality challenges, and a changing climate. However, if carefully planned and smartly managed, growth can present an opportunity to build a more prosperous, healthy, and sustainable Ontario, with vibrant urban and rural communities that offer more (and better) options to live, work, and play.
Farmland makes up about half of the land area of the GGH and represents one of the most important economic sectors of the region, contributing $11 billion and 38,000 jobs to Ontario’s economy. This economic activity generates $1.7 billion in tax revenue for the three levels of government, about 38 per cent of all taxes received from agriculture in Ontario. Approximately one third of the province’s agri-food industry is based in the GGH and 42 per cent of Ontario’s best quality (Class 1) farmland is located in the region. A strong and stable agricultural industry is essential to Ontario’s long-term economic health.