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 Thursday, 06 October 2016 23:53
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CALL TO ACTION -- OCTOBER 31st DEADLINE!
Co-ordinated Review: Feedback on Proposed Revised Plans
Your opportunity to speak up in favour of protecting more of Ontario's farmland and water resources has arrived! Food & Water First, along with dozens of other like-minded groups and thousands of Ontarians, participated in the government's recent review of the Greenbelt, Niagara Escarpment, Oak Ridges Moraine and Greater Golden Horseshoe plans. The province has acknowledged the public wants these plans expanded and strengthened, and has outlined its own proposals. This is your chance to have your say. You must do so by the end of this month - October 31st!
Food & Water First has made it easy. We've written a template letter (in PDF format, and also below) expressing our views. Please add your own thoughts and expertise, then follow the instructions! Please share the letter with family and friends before October 31st!
Instructions to submit comments:
- Copy and paste the letter below OR
- Download the pdf format letter
- Go to: http://www.mah.gov.on.ca/Page14851.aspx
- Fill in your name and information as requested
- Write, paste or attach your comments as indicated
- Review and submit
This is our letter. Feel free to copy and add your own comments.
We are grateful for the opportunity to comment on the province’s Co-ordinated Land Use proposals for the Greenbelt, Niagara Escarpment, Oak Ridges Moraine and Greater Golden Horseshoe Growth plans. Our group, the North Dufferin Agricultural and Community Taskforce (NDACT), believes these plans should be strengthened and expanded, so that Ontario’s prime farmland and water resources are better protected for our economic and food security.
NDACT has recent experience in this area. From 2009 to 2012, led a large and successful citizens’ movement that stopped the Highland Mega Quarry - the largest proposed quarry in Canadian history – on 6,500-acres of Class 1 soil at the headwaters of five river systems abutting the Greenbelt. The campaign gave birth to NDACT’s Food & Water First movement. It continues to press for land-use revisions.
As stated in the Discussion Document for the Co-ordinated Review, southern Ontario is home to unique natural resources:
“It has some of Canada’s most important and productive farmland. Its fertile soil, moderate climate and abundant water resources support agricultural production that cannot be duplicated elsewhere in the province or country.”
The statistics are sobering:
1. A mere 0.5 percent of Canada is comprised of Class 1 soil (the rarest).
2. Just over ½ of that 0.5 percent of Class I soil is in Ontario.
3. So far, we have lost nearly 20 percent of this soil due to development and
other non-farming activities.
4. Ontario is losing up to 350 acres of farmland (not just Class 1) each day.
Ontario boasts the largest agri-food sector in the country. It employs 740,000 people and contributes $34-billion to the economy each year. Nearly one-half of Ontario’s fruit farms and one-fifth of its vegetable farms are within the Greenbelt, a critical agricultural resource. Therefore, NDACT supports tighter protections for agricultural lands within all four provincial plans and a robust Agricultural System as proposed by the government:
Prime agricultural areas, including specialty crop areas, will be designated in accordance with mapping identified by the Province and these areas will be protected for long-term use for agriculture.
NDACT also recommends:
Applications for aggregate extraction must be accompanied by an Agricultural Impact Assessment.
Pits and quarries should not be allowed on Class 1, 2, 3 or 4 soils (prime farmland) within the provincial plans.
There should be a ban on any aggregate extraction below the water table.
The proposed expansion and strengthening of the four provincial plans also includes better protections for Ontario’s water resources. NDACT fully supports enhanced protection for key water sources as outlined in the proposed plan revisions.
Stronger farmland and water protection policies within expanded provincial plans are also essential to curbing sprawl that devours prime farmland. Once food-producing land is paved over and developed, it’s gone forever. The government must not preside over the permanent loss of the only agricultural soils capable of growing food and key to Canada’s largest agri-food sector.
In summary, NDACT and Food & Water First believe there is a tremendous opportunity for the province to implement visionary land-use policies that will ensure a positive legacy for Ontario. We strongly urge the government to expand the boundaries of the four provincial plans and ensure agricultural lands, water resources and the natural environment within these plans are protected in perpetuity.