Dear Mayor Burton and Town Council,
We are sending this letter on behalf of the National Farmers Union – Ontario (NFU-O) and the NFU-O Local 351, representing Hamilton, Brant and Halton, to urge Oakville Town Council to oppose the urban boundary expansion that would result in the loss of 5,000 acres of prime farmland.
The NFU-O is an accredited farm organization representing thousands of sustainable family farmers in Ontario and has advocated for farm families across Ontario and Canada since 1969. The NFU-O believes that the family farm should be the primary unit of food production in Ontario. Members work together to achieve agricultural policies that ensure dignity and income security for farm families, while protecting and enhancing rural environments for current and future generations. The NFU-O collaborates locally, nationally and internationally to research, educate, and share effective solutions that lead to a better world for farm families and their communities.
The Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) is home to one of North America’s largest agricultural and agricultural-food clusters, with a unique diversity of primary farm production, food processing, food service, food distribution and retail that represents the fastest growing employment sector in Ontario.
Farmland in the GGH is a finite resource and forms the base of this economic sector. Once paved over this farmland will be lost forever. In 2018, the NFU-O and 14 other organizations in the agricultural sector called on the province to freeze all urban expansion and introduce firm, permanent municipal growth boundaries in the GGH to prevent the region’s remaining farmland from being paved over and additional farming communities from being displaced. Contributing to the loss of Ontario’s farmland undermines farmers’ ability to grow food, new farmers’ ability to access farmland, and threatens the food security of the province.
Furthermore, a City of Ottawa study showed that implementing responsible densification of urban areas would save municipalities $603 per person. Alternatively, the type of low-density development proposed within Halton Region, will cost the city $465 per person as the cost to build and maintain infrastructure for roads, power and sewage will be greater than income generated by property taxes.
It is imperative that municipalities implement land use plans that preserve farmland by creating and implementing a strategy for the densification of urban areas. Halton’s own growth plan within the Regional Official Plan calls to “curb urban sprawl and protect farmland” with a stated goal to “revitalize downtowns… and create complete communities”. The growth plan highlights ample opportunity for intensification of existing communities and development on greenfield space while protecting farmland.
For these reasons the NFU-O and NFU-O Local 351 stand in solidarity with the Stop Sprawl Halton initiative and urge Oakville Town Council to reject the proposal to expand Halton Region’s urban boundary.
President, NFU-O Local 351
President, National Farmers Union – Ontario