Agriculture and the relationship to smart growth

Ontario Smart Growth includes the goal of "Protecting and Enhancing the Environment." This goal will be achieved through "protecting the quality of air, water and land across Ontario by steering growth pressures away from significant agricultural land and natural areas."1

Including agricultural land in this goal confirms it as a recognized natural resource to be protected. Inherent in achieving sustainability, is the ability to provide a safe, secure, high-quality food supply. To achieve this, it is not sufficient to just protect the land. Support for the agricultural industry as a whole must also be addressed.

This paper explores this position, addresses how it should be incorporated in the smart growth strategy, comments on associated issues, and makes recommendations to support and implement the strategy. In doing so, the following topics are addressed:

  • the definition of "significant" agricultural land;
  • the location of significant agricultural lands in the Central Zone;
  • the relative significance of different types of agricultural land;
  • the location of particularly significant agricultural lands;
  • uses that compete with agriculture for land;
  • preserving agricultural lands in light of competing demands;
  • agriculture in urbanizing areas;
  • protection strategies for agriculture;
  • the positive and negative implications of protecting agricultural land;
  • the major barriers to a healthy agricultural industry;
  • the ingredients of a healthy agricultural industry;
  • the time frame within which agricultural land should be protected;
  • key trends and issues affecting agriculture over the next three decades;
  • agricultural factors that should be included in an smart growth policy.