OFA provided comments to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing regarding requested feedback on ways to grow the size and further enhance the quality of the Greenbelt. The Greenbelt aims to provide permanent protection to the agricultural land base, however, the current system is resulting in incremental loss of agricultural lands, based on an imbalance of prioritizing development and growth over farmland preservation. OFA does not support the proposed areas to grow the Greenbelt and OFA believes that the province should take a holistic, systematic, province-wide approach that identifies the most appropriate areas for growth with justifiable criteria and a comprehensive analysis. Distributing development across the province, rather than concentrating it in one area, is OFA’s solution to the growing challenges that face both rural and urban communities. OFA also recommends that sound public policy to create economic opportunities must be paired with thoughtful land use policies to protect water and soil for future generations. The Greenbelt boundaries fail to address the leapfrogging of development activity, therefore, OFA believes that the Ontario government should designate all lands in Ontario that are outside of current urban boundaries as Greenbelt.
OFA supports the provincial priorities highlighted in the proposal, however, OFA believes that the Province has unfairly prioritized growth over other opportunities. The agri-food sector should be a key consideration for driving economic growth and recovery from COVID-19, while ensuring that our finite and shrinking agricultural land is not lost to development. If our province plans to continue to grow and prosper, we must have a plan to protect our ability to produce food, fiber and fuel for the people of Ontario and beyond.