In 2011, The Highland Companies, filed an application with the province for the largest quarry in Canadian history on the best farmland in Ontario and at the headwaters of five river systems. The mega Quarry would have sprawled across 2,316 acres and would have plunged 200 feet below the water table on a 15,000 acre plateau of Class 1 farmland. The massive open-pit limestone quarry would have put rare agricultural soil and precious water resources at risk in Melancthon Township. A large and diverse group of rural and urban residents launched a Stop the Mega Quarry movement. It was a success.
On November 21, 2012, The Highland Companies announced it was withdrawing its Mega Quarry application and plans for a rail corridor through Dufferin County to Owen Sound. However, the fate of the land and water was unknown. Highland Companies still owned 6,500 acres of Class 1 farmland and could re-apply at any time.
Then on July 16, 2013, Bonnefield Financial, an investment firm specializing in acquiring farmland, bought all of Highland's land. Bonnefield's president, Tom Eisenhauser, announced the fields will continue to be farmed. After many years of uncertainty, it seems the best agricultural soil in the province and its bounty are safe for the time being.
While the Melancthon fields may be secure, Ontario's prime farmland and source water regions remain vulnerable. The present Provincial Policy Statement and Aggregate Resources Act still allow non-farming development on land and water that sustain us. Until legislation is changed, these vital resources are still at risk.
We must now ensure that our source waters and prime agricultural lands are protected, and not at risk of being destroyed.....thus the beginning of our:
Food & Water First campaign, round 2 of 2.
- Published on Wednesday, 30 November 2016 12:40
- Hits: 38
"We are building on our recent collaborative article in the Hamilton Spectator. This collaborative effort has been managed by Ontario Farmland Trust."
The Ontario Farmland Trust along with 14 other farming and conservation organizations have joined together and called on the province to freeze all urban expansion and introduce firm, permanent municipal growth boundaries in the Greater Golden Horseshoe. This urgent call is important to prevent the region’s remaining farmland from being paved over and additional farming communities from being displaced.
It’s clear that more land for urban development in the region is not needed, with an excess of 25 years’ worth of farmland already designated by municipalities to accommodate growth in both urban and rural settlement areas (Neptis Foundation, 2015). An area of prime farmland 1.5 times the size of the City of Toronto is in the process of being rapidly converted to housing subdivisions, warehouses and strip malls.
Not just home to the best farmland in Canada, the Greater Golden Horseshoe is home to one of North America’s largest agricultural and agri-food industry clusters, with a unique diversity of primary farm production, food processing, food service, food distribution and retail that represents the fastest growing employment sector in Ontario and generates $12.3 billion in annual economic activity.
The Greenbelt protects some of Ontario’s countryside, but there are hundreds of thousands of acres that continue to be at-risk and need protection now.
This call for firmer growth boundaries has been published in the Hamilton Spectator. Read the full story.