Agriculture Policy Paper

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Download the Agriculture Policy Paper.

Background

Agricultural land use planning is vital to the economic, social, and environmental sustainability of Ontario. Rural and agricultural communities provide a high quality of life and support Ontario’s economy. The agricultural and rural character of the Township – which is characterized by an open, natural and agricultural landscape rather than one dominated by human-made structures and landscaping – is highly valued by the community. Building upon this rural and agricultural character supports a healthy, integrated, and viable rural area. The Township’s Agricultural area is an area in which the predominant constraint to development is the need to protect the prime agricultural land base. The natural, open countryside is maintained by protecting agricultural and other resource-related uses and directing non-related development to areas where it will minimize constraints on these uses.

The growing population in Ontario, combined with changing farming realities, has contributed to an evolving agricultural industry. There is more demand for agricultural products and innovation in how food is produced than ever before. There is also an increased role for technology in agriculture, larger consolidated farm operations, farm income diversification, and a burgeoning interest in local and organic foods. At the same time, productive farm land is threatened by incompatible development and land uses. Application of guidelines such as the Minimum Distance Separation Formulae helps to reduce conflicts between agricultural and non-agricultural land uses.

Prime agricultural lands are, in order of priority for protection, speciality crop areas, and Canada Land Class Inventory Class 1, 2, and 3 lands. Prime agricultural areas are areas where prime agricultural lands predominate, and includes associated Canada Land Inventory Class 4 through 7 lands, and additional areas where there is a local concentration of farms which exhibit characteristics of ongoing agriculture. These lands are the basis for a significant economic engine in rural communities, which: produces local foods and products for export, supports employment opportunities, and contributes to unique agri-tourism opportunities. Prime agricultural areas must be designated in Official Plans. The PPS provides direction on: (1) permitted uses in prime agricultural areas, (2) lot creation and lot adjustment, (3) removal of land from prime agricultural areas, and (4) non-agricultural uses in prime agricultural areas to ensure that prime agricultural areas are protected. The Township’s Agricultural land use designation identifies the prime agricultural areas in the Township and provides policies to protect these valuable lands.

The PPS promotes the provision of opportunities for economic activities in prime agricultural areas, and the diversification of the economic base through goods and services, including value-added products and the sustainable management or use of resources. Agricultural uses, agriculture-related uses, on-farm diversified uses and

normal farm practices should be promoted and protected in accordance with provincial standards. The PPS further protects agricultural uses by directing non-related development to areas where it will minimize constraints on these uses.

Ensuring the profitability of farms while preserving the environment is a significant challenge faced when it comes to sustainable agriculture. New technologies in the agricultural industry are changing the way we farm in Ontario. Technological advancements such as computer-controlled sowing, watering, fertilising and harvesting operations can contribute to more controlled operations for producing reliable products, reduced water use, and crops that are more resistant to the challenges presented by nature.

Other levels of government are interested in supporting an innovative, competitive agricultural and agri-food sector. Under the umbrella of the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, federal, provincial and territorial governments (FPT) are currently working together to develop the next agricultural policy framework to support the agriculture and agri-food sector, proposed to be launched on April 1, 2018. The goal of the next agricultural policy framework is to: “enhance the agricultural sector’s ability to compete, innovate, capture new opportunities, cultivate public trust, respond to new consumer demands and grow sustainably” (Calgary Statement, 2016). Unlike the provincial planning polices, this FPT policy framework is aimed at broadly supporting the economic sector rather than directing land uses. Still, programs and partnerships such as this demonstrate a shared interest at the local, Provincial, and Federal levels for protecting agricultural land uses in the long term.

Proposed Objectives

The following objectives are those which are being considered for the new Township of Adjala-Tosorontio Official Plan. They have been developed through an examination of existing Official Plan objectives and principles, review of the Adjala-Tosorontio Community-Based Strategic Plan, and input received from council, the public, agencies, and municipal staff.

To protect prime agricultural areas for long-term use for agriculture and support a diversified rural economy

To prioritise specialty crop areas, and Canada Land Inventory Class 1, 2, and 3 lands for protection, in that order of priority for protection

To protect and enhance the rural and agricultural character of the Township

Proposed Policies

The following policies are those which are being considered for the new Township of Adjala-Tosorontio Official Plan. They have been developed through:

  • Reviewing existing Official Plan policies and updating them to comply with new provincial and county policy requirements
  • Input received from council, the public, agencies, and municipal staff

Policies that have been strictly mandated by the province or county appear in bold whereas those that have been municipally derived appear in plain text.

Location and Definition

Lands designated Agricultural are identified on Schedules X to X and X to X to this Plan. In addition to Section X, lands used for Agricultural purposes which are located on the Oak Ridges Moraine are also subject to Section X of this Plan. (Township OP 4.3.1.1)

Lands designated Agricultural generally include prime agricultural areas, including areas of prime agricultural lands and associated Canada Land Inventory Class 4 through 7 lands, and additional areas where there is a local concentration of farms which exhibit characteristics of ongoing agriculture (PPS 2.3.2 & PPS definition: Prime Agricultural Area)

The boundaries between the Agricultural and Rural designations on Schedules X to X tend to follow property lines and defined natural and man-made features. As such, there are instances where the actual boundary between prime agricultural lands and other lands is approximate. The boundary between the Agricultural and Rural designations may be adjusted so that the lands may develop in accordance with the Rural policies in Section X of this Plan without an Official Plan Amendment. (Township OP 4.3.2.2)

In addition to this Section, applications for development and site alteration for lands used for agricultural purposes located on the Oak Ridges Moraine shall be subject to the policies outlined in Section X of this Plan. (Township OP 4.3.3.6)

Principles

The long term preservation and maintenance of the prime agricultural areas in the Township is a basic principle of this Plan and is a matter of Provincial interest. (Township OP 4.3.2.1)

Specialty crop areas are given the highest priority for protection followed by Classes 1, 2 and 3 soils and any associated Class 4 through 7 lands within the prime agricultural area, in this order of priority. (Township OP 4.3.1.3 & PPS 2.3.1)

Farmers are encouraged to employ sound farm practices in their farm operations. Council shall support the farmers’ “right-to-farm” in dealing with any complaints made by neighbours related to noise, odour, dust, light, vibration, smoke or flies if normal farm practices are used, as described under the Farming and Food Protection Act, S.O. 1998. (Township OP 4.3.2.4)

Development in prime agricultural areas should wherever possible be designed and sited on a property so as to minimize adverse impacts on agriculture and the natural heritage system and cultural features. (County of Simcoe Official Plan 3.6.10)

The province intends to identify an agricultural system for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. The Township is encouraged to implement strategies and other approaches to sustain and enhance the agricultural system and the long-term economic prosperity and viability of the agri-food sector, including the maintenance and improvement of the agricultural support network by:

a) providing opportunities to support local food, urban and near-urban agriculture, and promoting the sustainability of agricultural, agri-food and agri-product businesses through protecting agricultural resources and minimizing land use conflicts;

b) considering the agricultural support network in planning decisions to protect or enhance critical agricultural assets. Where negative impacts on the agricultural system are unavoidable, they will be assessed and mitigated to the extent feasible;

c) undertaking long-term planning for agriculture, integrating agricultural economic development, infrastructure, goods movement and freight considerations with land use planning;

d) preparing regional agri-food strategies or establishing or consulting with agricultural advisory committees or liaison officers; and

e) maintaining, improving and providing opportunities for agriculture-supportive infrastructure both on and off farms. (Proposed Growth Plan 4.6.2.1)

Permitted Uses

In prime agricultural areas, permitted uses and activities are: agricultural uses, agriculture-related uses, on-farm diversified uses, natural heritage conservation and forestry, mineral aggregate operation subject to the policies of Section X, and agricultural produce sales outlets generally marketing production from the local area. Proposed agriculture-related uses and on-farm diversified uses shall be compatible with, and shall not hinder, surrounding agricultural operations. Criteria for these uses may be based on guidelines developed by the Province or municipal approaches, as set out by the Township, which achieve the same objectives. (PPS 2.3.3.1 & County of Simcoe 3.6.6)

In prime agricultural areas, all types, sizes and intensities of agricultural uses and normal farm practices shall be promoted and protected in accordance with provincial standards. (PPS 2.3.3.2 & County of Simcoe 3.6.5)

New land uses, including the creation of lots, and new or expanding livestock facilities shall comply with the minimum distance separation formulae. (PPS 2.3.3.3)

Agricultural Uses

(a) the growing of crops, including nursery, biomass, and horticultural crops;

(b) raising of livestock;

(c) raising of other animals for food, fur or fibre, including poultry and fish;

(d) aquaculture;

(e) apiaries;

(f) agro-forestry;

(g) maple syrup production;

(h) associated on-farm buildings and structures, including, but not limited to livestock facilities, manure storages, value-retaining facilities, and accommodation for full-time farm labour when the size and nature of the operation requires additional employment.

Agriculture-related Uses

Farm-related commercial and farm-related industrial uses that are directly related to farm operations in the area, support agriculture, benefit from being in close proximity to farm operations, and provide direct products and/or services to farm operations as a primary activity.

On-Farm Diversified Uses

Uses that are secondary to the principal agricultural use of the property, and are limited in area. On-farm diversified uses include, but are not limited to:

(a) home occupations,

(b) home industries,

(c) agri-tourism uses, and

(d) uses that produce value-added agricultural products.

Non-agricultural Uses

The Township may only permit non-agricultural uses in prime agricultural areas for:

(a) extraction of minerals, petroleum resources and mineral aggregate resources, in accordance with policies X and X; or

(b) limited non-residential uses, provided that all of the following are demonstrated:

1. the land does not comprise a specialty crop area; (PPS 2.3.6.1)

2. the proposed use complies with the minimum distance separation formulae; (PPS 2.3.6.1)

3. there is an identified need within the planning horizon for additional land to be designated to accommodate the proposed use; (PPS 2.3.6.1) and

4. alternative locations have been evaluated, (PPS 2.3.6.1) and

i. there are no reasonable alternative locations which avoid prime agricultural areas; and

ii. there are no reasonable alternative locations in prime agricultural areas with lower priority agricultural lands. (PPS 2.3.6.1)

5. the proposed use requires minimal site alteration, as determined through pre-consultation with the local municipality and the approval authority; (County of Simcoe Official Plan 3.6.12.5)

6. the proposed use shall be compatible with the surrounding agricultural uses or in a location that is separated from the primary agricultural operations by physical features and demonstrated to cause minimal disruption to surrounding area; (County of Simcoe Official Plan 3.6.12.6)

7. the proposed use will not be located in an area that may have an impact on the efficient and logical expansion of nearby settlement areas; (County of Simcoe Official Plan 3.6.12.7)

8. the proposed use complies with all other applicable provisions of this Plan; (County of Simcoe Official Plan 3.6.12.8) and

9. applications for non-agricultural uses must be supported by adequate technical assessment to ensure that appropriate services for the proposed use can be provided. (County of Simcoe Official Plan 3.6.12.9)

Impacts from any new or expanding non-agricultural uses on surrounding agricultural operations and lands are to be mitigated to the extent feasible. The Township shall utilize site plan control to regulate the impact of non-agricultural uses in prime agricultural areas. (PPS 2.3.6.2 & County of Simcoe Official Plan 3.6.12.9)

Accessory Uses

Accessory uses permitted in conjunction with a principal agricultural use may include:

(a) A single detached residential dwelling;

(b) Temporary residential accommodation for farm help employed full time in the farming operation provided that such accommodation is an integral part of the farm operation, cannot be severed and the size and nature of the operation requires additional employment;

(c) A second detached dwelling may be established on a farm subject to the availability of access to a public road in accordance with Township and County policies and by-laws, and the provision of adequate water and wastewater systems. Second detached dwellings, where permitted, should be located in the farm building cluster and subsequent consents to create separate lots for the two dwellings are expressly prohibited;

(d) Storage facilities for agricultural products, greenhouses and seasonal home grown produce stands;

(e) Uses that produce value-added agricultural products from the farm operation on the property;

(f) Agricultural repair facilities;

(g) Small scale home occupations in farm dwellings;

(h) Small scale home industries in separate buildings;

(i) Bed and breakfast establishments and rooming or boarding houses; and

(j) Animal hospitals, veterinary offices and dog kennels. (Township OP 4.3.3.3)

Large scale commercial, institutional, industrial or private recreational uses, including firearm ranges, golf courses and commercial truck or bus storage and repair facilities, are not permitted in the agricultural designation.

Lot Creation and Lot Adjustment

Lot creation in prime agricultural areas is discouraged and may only be permitted for:

(a) agricultural uses, provided that the lots are of a size appropriate for the type of agricultural use(s) common in the area and are sufficiently large to maintain flexibility for future changes in the type or size of agricultural operations;

(b) agriculture-related uses, provided that any new lot will be limited to a minimum size needed to accommodate the use and appropriate sewage and water services; (PPS 2.3.4.1 & County of Simcoe Official Plan 3.6.8)

(c) a residence surplus to a farming operation as a result of farm consolidation, provided that:

1. the new lot will be limited to a minimum size needed to accommodate the use and appropriate sewage and water services; and

2. the planning authority ensures that new residential dwellings are prohibited on any remnant parcel of farmland created by the severance. The approach used to ensure that no new residential dwellings are permitted on the remnant parcel may be recommended by the Province, or based on municipal approaches which achieve the same objective; (PPS 2.3.4.1) and

(d) infrastructure, where the facility or corridor cannot be accommodated through the use of easements or rights-of-way. (PPS 2.3.4.1)

In addition this section, lot creation and lot adjustments proposed for lands within the Oak Ridges Moraine located on Schedules X to X shall be subject to the policies outlined in Section X of this Plan (Township OP 4.3.4.2)

Lot adjustments in prime agricultural areas may be permitted for legal or technical reasons. (PPS 2.3.4.2 & Township OP 4.3.4.8)

Lot creation in prime agricultural areas will not be permitted where the new lot will have adverse effects on agricultural operations. (Township OP 4.3.4.5)

The creation of new lots for non-agricultural purposes will generally not be permitted in the agricultural designation, except for severance from each other of two or more rural lots that have merged on title where such severance shall follow the original lot lines and original half lot lines (Township OP 4.3.4.1.b)

Proposed Definitions

Agricultural condition: means

a) in regard to specialty crop areas, a condition in which substantially the same areas and same average soil capability for agriculture are restored, the same range and productivity of specialty crops common in the area can be achieved, and, where applicable, the microclimate on which the site and surrounding area may be dependent for specialty crop production will be maintained or restored; and

b) in regard to prime agricultural land outside of specialty crop areas, a condition in which substantially the same areas and same average soil capability for agriculture are restored. (PPS 2014)

Agricultural Impact Assessment: A study that evaluates the potential impacts of non-agricultural development on agricultural operations and the agricultural system and recommends ways to avoid or, if avoidance is not possible, minimize and mitigate adverse impacts. (Proposed Growth Plan 2016)

Agricultural support network: A network that is part of the agricultural system and includes elements important to the viability of the agri-food sector such as: regional agricultural infrastructure and transportation networks, on-farm buildings and infrastructure, agricultural services, farm markets, distributors and first-level processing, and vibrant, agriculture-supportive communities. (Proposed Growth Plan 2016)

Agricultural system: A group of inter-connected elements that collectively create a viable, thriving agricultural sector. It has two components: 1. An agricultural land base comprised of prime agricultural areas, including specialty crop areas and rural lands that together create a continuous productive land base for agriculture; 2. An agricultural support network which includes infrastructure, services and agri-food assets important to the viability of the sector. (Proposed Growth Plan 2016)

Agricultural uses: The growing of crops, including nursery, biomass, and horticultural crops; raising of livestock; raising of other animals for food, fur or fibre, including poultry and fish; aquaculture; apiaries; agro-forestry; maple syrup production; and associated on-farm buildings and structures, including, but not limited to livestock facilities, manure storages, value-retaining facilities, and accommodation for full-time farm labour when the size and nature of the operation requires additional employment. (PPS, 2014)

Agriculture-related uses: means those farm-related commercial and farm-related industrial uses that are directly related to farm operations in the area, support agriculture, benefit from being in close proximity to farm operations, and provide direct products and/or services to farm operations as a primary activity. (PPS 2014)

Agri-tourism uses: means those farm-related tourism uses, including limited accommodation, such as a farm vacation home or bed and breakfast, that promote the enjoyment, education or activities related to the farm operation. (PPS 2014)

Agro-forestry: means the growing of trees for nursery stock, Christmas trees and managed woodlots for forestry products.

Minimum Distance Separation Formulae: means formulae and guidelines developed by the Province, as amended from time to time, to separate uses so as to reduce incompatibility concerns about odour from livestock facilities. (PPS, 2014)

Normal farm practices: means a practice, as defined in the Farming and Food Production Protection Act, 1998, that is conducted in a manner consistent with proper and acceptable customs and standards as established and followed by similar agricultural operations under similar circumstances; or makes use of innovative technology in a manner consistent with proper advanced farm management practices. Normal farm practices shall be consistent with the Nutrient Management Act, 2002 and regulations made under that Act. (PPS 2014)

On-farm diversified uses: means uses that are secondary to the principal agricultural use of the property, and are limited in area. On-farm diversified uses include, but are not limited to, home occupations, home industries, agri-tourism uses, and uses that produce value-added agricultural products. (PPS 2014)

Prime agricultural area: means areas where prime agricultural lands predominate. This includes: areas of prime agricultural lands and associated Canada Land Inventory Class 4-7 soils; and additional areas where there is a local concentration of farms which exhibit characteristics of ongoing agriculture. Prime agricultural areas may be identified by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food using evaluation procedures established by the Province as amended from time to time, or may also be identified through an alternative agricultural land evaluation system approved by the Province. (PPS 2014)

Prime agricultural land: means specialty crop areas and/or Canada Land Inventory Class 1, 2, and 3 lands, as amended from time to time, in this order of priority for protection. (PPS 2014)

Processing of agricultural products: where it is permitted in Prime Agricultural Areas or Rural Areas are those agriculture-related uses, which do not require additional water and sewer servicing, such as the initial cleaning, culling, storing, or packaging of products produced on the farm or in conjunction with farms in the vicinity which produce the same agricultural products, in preparation for shipment to food processing establishments or market. (County of Simcoe Official Plan)

Rural areas: means a system of lands within municipalities that may include rural settlement areas, rural lands, prime agricultural areas, natural heritage features and areas, and resource areas. (PPS 2014)

Rural lands: means lands which are located outside settlement areas and which are outside prime agricultural areas. (PPS 2014)

Specialty crop area: Areas designated using guidelines established by the Province, as amended from time to time. In these areas, specialty crops are predominantly grown such as tender fruits (peaches, cherries, plums), grapes, other fruit crops, vegetable crops, greenhouse crops, and crops from agriculturally developed organic soil usually resulting from: a) soils that have suitability to produce specialty crops, or lands that are subject to special climatic conditions, or a combination of both; b) farmers skilled specialty crops; and c) a long-term investment of capital in areas such as crops, drainage, infrastructure and related facilities and services to produce, store, or process specialty crops. (PPS, 2014)

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