There is no evil here.
There is always a good reason to use farmland.
Developers see opportunity — a chance to put people to work; a chance to build homes, schools, businesses, hospitals; a chance to make money.
Cities, Towns and Municipalities see growth — a chance to build their tax base; to bring services to taxpayers; to bring businesses to communities; and to bring in revenue.
We have lots of farmland, don’t we?
Development is a core value of our growth economy.
So farmland is seen as “vacant”, “empty” and waiting for development.
But the truth is that we don’t have as much farmland as we think since much of the best Ontario farmland has already been developed. The best farmland is under the cities of Toronto, Bramalea, Brampton, Missisauga, Ajax, Whitby, Pickering, Niagara Falls. The climate and soil conditions change once you start moving north, so the types of produce grown is limited.
Statistics Canada reported that Ontario was losing the equivalent of 350 acres per day over the 2011 to 2016 period. That figure has decreased to 175 acres of farmland every day as of May 10, 2017 (article).
As at 2006, Statistics Canada reported that there was 13.3 million acres of farmland in Ontario. That amount was 8% of the total farm area in Canada.
Losing 350 acres of farmland per day means that Ontario has 104 years of farmland before it is entirely gone.
Losing 175 acres of farmland per day means that we have 208 years before Ontario’s farmland is gone.
That’s a lot of food and jobs for Canadians conceivably gone in a couple of hundred years.
Now is the time to think about the future.
Should the farmland we have left be valued for the food it produces, the people it employs, the water it filters, the cities it feeds, and the future opportunities it presents?
Our challenge is to show people that farmland is precious and must be protected well into the future.