Ontario’s precious farmland: Beyond the Greenbelt controversy
Martin Straathof is executive director of the Ontario Farmland Trust. – Ontario Farmland Trust photo
From Simcoe.com, August 18, 2023
Ontario’s vibrant landscapes and rich, world-class farmlands have long been the pride of our province. However, a recent decision and the subsequent auditor general’s report about the removal of 7,400 acres from the Greenbelt has brought the conservation of these treasured lands to the forefront of public discourse.
This controversy is not just about those acres; it reveals a much larger and pressing issue about Ontario’s dwindling farmland.
The Greenbelt — a protected expanse of farmland, forest and wetlands encircling the Greater Toronto Area and spanning two million acres — has been at the heart of a major controversy. Premier Doug Ford’s government decided to remove protections from 7,400 acres of land to create more land for housing development.
As the public consultation period opened, the voice of Ontarians was unmistakably clear. Of the 35,000 responses the government received, an overwhelming majority were opposed to this decision.
Multiple reports assert there was no need to encroach upon the Greenbelt to fulfil housing development goals. Then why, many wondered, did the government press on with such an unpopular and seemingly unnecessary decision?