• Protecting Water and Farmland in Simcoe County

This election, vote farmland – 5 frequently asked questions

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In Agriculture
May 30th, 2018
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from the Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition

We’ve put together answers to a handful of frequently asked questions for those who might need convincing why the Greenbelt is an important issue to vote for.

1 Why expand the Greenbelt to protect water?

Current legislation governing water protection outside of the Greenbelt is fragmented, leaving parts of our water system vulnerable to quantity and quality issues.

For example, Source Water Protection plans do not protect private well owners, leaving homeowners on the hook if a well runs dry or is contaminated.

In order to have healthy, plentiful water the entire system (including headwaters, aquifers, wetlands, streams, moraines and recharge areas) needs to be recognized and protected. The Greenbelt can do that.

2 If we expand the Greenbelt, where will we build houses for our growing population?

There have been many studies, including ones done by the province, that show there is more than enough land designated for development to accommodate growth needs to roughly mid-century.

In Simcoe County, the vast majority of communities have more land than required to meet growth targets set in Places to Grow.

Data from Statistics Canada (2006) shows that across the Greater Golden Horseshoe, there were roughly 700,000 homes owned by people aged 55 and older.

As these homeowners, the Boomers, downsize or find other housing types more suited to a senior lifestyle these houses, coming on the market, will accommodate roughly 2.1 million people (assuming 3 people per house).

Virtually, all of these houses will come to market by 2031.

3 Is there evidence to support where the Greenbelt needs to be grown or is this just a random area?

Yes there is plenty of evidence to support why the Greenbelt needs to be grown in particular areas.

In Simcoe County specifically, the province outlined in its Intergovernmental Action Plan (2006) study of the area that, due to increasing growth and rapid urbanization pressures, immediate action needs to be taken to ensure the safety and quantity of drinking water.

Since most residents rely on groundwater, and since groundwater is a limited resource, the time to protect our water–the moraines, aquifers, recharge areas, wetlands and surface water systems–is NOW..

Luckily, the Source Water Protection Committee, together with local conservation authorities, has done fabulous work and mapped these vulnerable and important features in Simcoe County. That is the map that used to show areas that need Greenbelt protection.

4 If the Greenbelt comes to Simcoe County, won’t that just increase house prices due to lack of supply?

As mentioned before, there is more than enough land to meet supply demands for decades into the future.

Even the Ontario Home Builders concede that the Greenbelt is not the cause of high housing prices in the GTA or elsewhere.

What is costly, however, is sprawl.

If we continue to allow urbanization to occur in areas without accessible jobs, services, schools and infrastructure (roads, bridges, sewers, water treatment facilities), then we will continue to spread already stretched tax dollars over a larger area.

Sprawl developments don’t provide enough revenue to cover their lifetime costs, and effectively act as a drain on the municipal purse.

In the end, there is only one pocket these costs get paid from, and that’s the taxpayers’.

5 Won’t the Greenbelt hurt farmers?

The Greenbelt won’t hurt farmers that are planning to stay as farmers.

For those farmers that want to sell to developers, they simply won’t be allowed to any more.

Instead, they can sell their farmland to other farmers and keep that land as productive land.

Ontario loses 175 acres of farmland per day. Farms and farmland matter. Something must be done now to ensure this way of life remains viable and continues to serve as the backbone of Ontario’s economy. (Becauase if you can’t feed yourself, what have you got?)

Further, the Greenbelt does not have any policies that dictate what the farmer grows or that interfere in day to day operations.

The Greenbelt, with regard to agriculture, was designed to protect farmland as a system, pure and simple, and it has done this well, with zero acres of farmland lost to new development since the Greenbelt’s inception in 2005.

Also, farmland values in the Greenbelt, according to MPAC and ReMax, have consistently risen over the past 10 years.

If you haven’t yet, our candidate contact tool allows you to send a letter to all of the candidates in your area, asking them to think about the health and sustainability of our communities. Give it a try!

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