Kitchener-Waterloo

Waterloo Region leads Ontario cities in protecting farmland

Waterloo Region is leading the rest of Southern Ontario when it comes to protecting farmland according to the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, who is praising the region for its efforts.

Suburbs are replacing farmland at a rate of 350 acres a day in Ontario according to OFA report

Don McCabe says suburbs are replacing farmland at a rate of 350 acres a day. (Kate Porter/CBC)

Waterloo Region is leading the rest of Southern Ontario when it comes to protecting farmland according to the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.

A report released by the OFA and Toronto-based Environmental Defense praises the region for meeting density targets before expanding its cities' boundaries. 

"They're doing it right and good to them," said OFA President Don McCabe, who wants other Ontario municipalities to learn from the region's example.

"[Other] municipalities are just continuing to add to where they've already been. They're not densifying ... they just want to continue to head out."

McCabe said developers are attracted to farmland because it is available, uncluttered, and right next door to existing residential developments.

Conflict between new neighbours

According to census data, McCabe said suburbs are replacing farmland at a rate of 350 acres a day, which drives up the price of the land that is left over— land that is needed to grow food.

"Yes, there's got to be housing, but I've never seen a house reject the soil it was going on. I do know that you can't plant certain crops on certain areas because there's not enough soil. That's an excellent place for a house."

Sometimes there's concerns over the smells of farming. Sometimes there's concerns over the equipment moving down the road.- Don McCabe, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

McCabe said the close proximity between new developments and farmland is also bringing rural and urban life into conflict.

"You get neighbours who get a little concerned about the sounds of farming, as in sometimes we have to work into the night or start early in the morning. Sometimes there's concerns over the smells of farming. Sometimes there's concerns over the equipment moving down the road and 'Oh, My, God, they're so damn slow. Why are they on my road.'"

The OFA is calling on the Ontario government to freeze urban boundaries until at least 2031 to ensure cities grow up before they grow out.

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