Urban Development Guidelines Need Teeth to Rein In Sprawl

Cities and towns are approving land development now that may not happen for a decade. If we’re to protect farmland from being swallowed by ever-expanding municipal boundaries, we need to act now to stop it, says Keith Currie, president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) .

Currie’s organization is one of 16 farm groups leading a co-ordinated push for a hard freeze on existing municipal boundaries. Currently, there are density targets for municipal development, but these are guidelines, not regulations, and there aren’t any real consequences for building out, not up. “For (these guidelines) to work, these targets need teeth,” he says.

Currie explains, in the interview below, that there is particular concern for the Greater Golden Horseshoe area of Ontario. Home to not just some of the most productive farmland in Canada, the region is also a major hub for food processing. An area of prime farmland 1.5 times the size of the City of Toronto is already in the process of being rapidly converted to housing subdivisions, warehouses and strip malls, according to the coalition.

Related: Want to stop cities eating up farmland? We need urban allies

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