OFA appreciates the opportunity to comment on ERO # 019-6425 – Approval of an amendment to the Niagara Escarpment Plan (NEP). OFA fully supports and thanks the Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC) for the proposed amendment.
The NEP proposed amendment includes OFA’s (together with our local federations of agriculture in Halton Region, Niagara, Hamilton-Wentworth, Dufferin, Peel, Simcoe, Grey and Bruce) request that the NEC give consideration to amending the policies to allow the opportunity for the development of on-farm diversified uses and agricultural-related usesoutside of prime agricultural areas by amending the Escarpment Protection Area Permitted Use in Part 188.8.131.52.
The proposed amendment also proposes to amend the NEP Part 2.7 policies respecting development affecting natural heritage, recognizing that certain agricultural uses may be compatible in key natural heritage features, under certain conditions.
OFA is a strong advocate for the protection of Ontario’s farmlands for their long-term ability to produce food, fibre and fuel, not only for Ontario’s growing population, but also for consumers beyond our borders.
OFA believes that farming to produce food, fibre and fuel is the best use for farmland. Ontario’s limited supply of farmland is a scarce resource, making up less than five percent of all the land in the province. It’s vital that Ontario has a strong, viable and sustainable supply of food products grown, harvested and processed right here at home. Ontario’s shrinking agricultural land base is alarming. The current rate of loss is measured at 319 acres per day in our province, according to the 2021 Census of Agriculture. These losses are not sustainable.
We also emphasize that there is only one Ontario landscape. The full range of urban, rural, agricultural, natural heritage, cultural heritage, and mineral extraction land uses must coexist across this landscape.
OFA agrees with the NEC staff report that acknowledges that these proposals “do not reflect or address the full extent of the agricultural policy amendments that key agricultural stakeholders are seeking” and “considers the current amendment proposals as ‘Phase 1’ and advancing the current amendment proposal would not preclude subsequent amendments from being considered.” OFA agrees with this phased approach. OFA looks forward to continuing discussions to ensure a viable Agriculture System in the NEP Area.