Province backs away from extra farm severances

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It appears the province has backed off a plan to allow farmers to sever three lots from their farm plots.

The province is updating the provincial planning statement which guides all municipalities on planning. Part of that proposal would have allowed up to three residential lots created in rural areas. But the leaders of Ontario’s 12 farming organizations issued a statement condemning the idea.

The groups voiced concerned about taking farmland out of production and what the policy could do to the cost of land.

“We have significant concerns regarding the speculative investment that this proposal will drive, resulting in farmland values that make farming even more unattainable for the next generation. Any policies that might open land for speculative purchase and investment need to be discouraged,” the leaders of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, the National Farmers Union, the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario, and multiple organizations representing different sectors of agriculture wrote in a joint statement earlier this month.

“To farm, we need farmland.

“Additional lot severances proposed will make it difficult or impossible for farmers to operate, expand and grow their farms.

“We do not support policies that will increase residential lot creation in prime agricultural areas or in rural areas that are actively farmed.”

The groups said it put the food supply at great risk.

In the Ontario Legislature Tuesday, Agriculture Minister Lisa Thompson said the three residential lot proposal “was off the table.”

And farm organizations were quick to thank the Conservative government which “worked so hard to hear the concerns of farmers as we talked about protecting farmland and why lot severances can be a problem for the rural landscape,” said OFA President Peggy Brekveld in a video on social media just minutes after the minister made the comments.

“We know that we have many consultations and conversations still to come and we look forward to it. Farmland matters and farming matters.”

Not everyone was opposed to the idea of allow more rural severances. 

Dawn-Euphemia Mayor Al Broad said in some cases, where it not practical to use land in rural areas for farming, severances should be allowed. He says small municipalities like his need those rural residences to keep their communities alive.