TORONTO - The perception Ontario’s farmland is being urbanized at an alarming rate is unfounded, according to the Fraser Institute.
In a new report released Wednesday, the public policy think-tank says the area of farmland used to plant crops in Ontario has been essentially consistent since 1951.
The report, entitled Economic Analysis of Rural Land Use Policies in Ontario, says farmlands are more efficient and productive because of technological advancements and farmers becoming more efficient. Critics of developing southwestern Ontario say that rural land-use policies should reserve areas best suited for agriculture — such as the rich lands of the Golden Horseshoe — as farmland. Those on the other side of the coin say this land is best suited for residential use, infrastructure and other development.
Prof. Glen Fox, co-author of the Fraser land-use report:
“There’s a widespread public perception that Ontario is rapidly losing agricultural land to urbanization. These fears are unjustified. The false belief we’re running out of crop land has fuelled a demand for land-use regulation that keeps agricultural land from being converted into non-farm uses. While the land may be good for agriculture, we’re giving up on other potential benefits from the land — things like wildlife habitat, development or infrastructure projects and affordable housing.”
The Ontario Farmland Trust:
“Despite its obvious importance, Ontario is losing its agricultural land base at a rapid rate as many farms go out of production every year. Urban sprawl and rural non-farm development are contributing to the annual lose of thousands of acres of farmland.”
Larry Davis, with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture:
“Despite the vast and diverse area of land that makes up Canada’s second-largest province, less than 5% is suitable for food production. Once farmland is gone, it’s never coming back.”
Statistics Canada — Agriculture at a Glance report from 1999:
“On a clear day, over one third of Canada’s best agricultural land can be seen from the top of Toronto’s CN Tower.”
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