Ontario loses about 175 acres of farmland each day to urban development
By Diego Flammini
A new Ontario Federation of Agriculture campaign is highlighting how much land the industry is losing to urban development.
The Home Grown campaign estimates Ontario loses about 175 acres daily to urban expansion and development.
That number is equal to about 14 Rogers Centres, where the Toronto Blue Jays play.
The Rogers Centre in Toronto sits on about 12.7 acres of land. Ontario loses the equivalent of about 14 Rogers Centres or farmland each day to urban development.
Ontario’s total acreage is about 266 million acres, but only around 12.3 million acres is used for agriculture, said Crispin Colvin, Zone 6 director (Lambton-Middlesex) with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.
“Less than 5 per cent of Ontario is farmland,” he told Farms.com. “We have to help our urban centres and urban neighbours realize they have to grow within their boundaries. And if we’re going to grow populations and businesses, let’s have those go to places where you don’t have arable land.”
Some people have suggested to Colvin to “cut down a few trees” to make up for the lost farmland.
But it’s not that simple of a solution, he said.
“Firstly, trees capture carbon, so you want them around,” he said. “And secondly, our climate doesn’t allow us to grow some crops in northern parts of the province or even in some of the green belt areas. People have to understand it’s not a matter of moving agriculture to another location.”
At least one community is considering an urban boundary expansion.
The City of Hamilton is expected to vote this fall on a recommendation to add more than 3,000 acres of farmland to its urban growth plans.
People who support and oppose the growth have made their opinions known at recent council meetings.
Organizations like Environment Hamilton oppose the expansion while the West End Homebuilders Association believes it’s needed to help with housing availability.
Allowing municipalities like Hamilton to expand will be a detriment to the ag sector, Colvin says.
“Ontario produces about 200 commodities,” he said. “If we start paving over this land, we might not enjoy the variety of goods we produce here. The best land in the province is in Toronto but we can’t farm there, so we have to protect what we’ve got left or we’re going to be a net importer of food.”