FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Aug. 17, 2022
QUEEN’S PARK – In her first question in the Ontario Legislature, Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Bobbi Ann Brady asked the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs what protections are in place for agriculture land in the province.
Brady gave the example of the buffer zone around Stelco in Nanticoke that is presently farmland and is being proposed for residential development.
“The Ontario Federation of Agriculture warns Ontario is losing in excess of 319 acres of productive farmland each day to development,” she said in the Legislature. “This is unsustainable. With the announcement to expand powers for mayors, with the ultimate goal to accelerate housing development, Speaker, my question is what is the ministry doing to protect agricultural lands from developers?”
Minister Lisa Thompson assured a food strategy was in the works to ensure the agriculture supply chain stays in place. Brady then pointed out agriculture was not mentioned in the Throne Speech last week. She said, however, there was a big emphasis on building new homes and this “makes most of us in rural Ontario nervous as we see developers eyeing up productive lands.”
In her supplementary question, Brady asked if the minister is considering an agriculture land commission, such as used in Alberta, to preserve farmland. The minister committed to talking to her Alberta counterpart to see if such a commission would work in Ontario and provide a balanced approach with housing needs and food security.
MPP Brady pointed out that if we are to ensure one thing is homegrown, it must be food.
For more information, contact MPP Bobbi Ann Brady at 519-428-0446 or [email protected]
Video Link: Aug.17 Q.P.
ONTARIO LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
Aug. 17, 2022
Ms. Bobbi Ann Brady: My question is for the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, whom I’d like to congratulate on being appointed once again. The farmers of my riding tell me they appreciate your attentiveness and your willingness to meet with them.
In my riding of Haldimand–Norfolk, it is proposed that a city of 40,000 be built upon 42 acres of farmland. This farm and woodland serve as a buffer zone around the Nanticoke industrial park near Port Dover. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture warns Ontario is losing in excess of 319 acres of productive farmland each day to development. This is unsustainable. With the announcement to expand powers for mayors, with the ultimate goal to accelerate housing development, Speaker, my question is what is the ministry doing to protect agricultural lands from developers?
Hon. Lisa M. Thompson: I appreciate the question very much, and I do appreciate how hard the member opposite works on behalf of our agricultural communities in her riding.
With that said, we are all working very, very hard to ensure that we have food security that people can trust across this province, across Canada and throughout North America. And with that spirit, we are working on innovation and opportunities to increase yield right here at home so that good-quality food is available to Ontarians when they need it, at the right price. Because we’re looking to introduce a food strategy plan later this fall that will speak to the importance of secure supply chains so that we can ensure that we’re increasing our yields right here at home and intensifying our production so that we can maximize the opportunities that we have in our lands across this province.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The supplementary question.
Ms. Bobbi Ann Brady: Speaker, this city of 40,000 is a bad idea. Not only would the city be on farmland but it’s also in a provincially significant employment zone as it is adjacent to one of Ontario’s largest oil-refining and steelmaking greenfield complexes. There was nary a mention of agriculture in last Tuesday’s speech from the throne; it did stress, however, the need for an additional one and a half million homes and the fact more people are arriving in the province. This makes most of us in rural Ontario nervous as we see developers eyeing up productive lands.
In other jurisdictions, Alberta for example, they have a provincial agricultural land commission to ensure land is preserved for the future. If we want one thing grown here at home, it must be our food. Speaker, I’m wondering if the ministry is willing to establish such a committee to preserve the lands that feed us.
Hon. Lisa M. Thompson: The member opposite knows I’m willing to speak with and meet with farmers anywhere, anytime across Ontario, because this is so, so important. And I’m pleased to share with her that just this past couple of days at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario we had wonderful deputations whereby we have met with municipalities. Because they understand and appreciate the importance of food security.
We’re going to have a balanced approach. Minister Clark has a very good path forward in terms of making sure that we are addressing the housing needs, affordable attainable housing needs that we have across this province. We’ll be balancing it with the importance of food security and enabling our farmers to be the best across Canada. Certainly, that’s something that I can pick up in terms of a conversation and follow up with the minister in Alberta to better understand what they have and see if it’s appropriate here in the spirit of making sure that we have the balanced approach to making sure we are achieving our goal to meet housing needs all the while ensuring that we have food security right here close to home.