Dear Mayor Armstrong and Councillors,
I am writing on behalf of the National Farmers Union – Ontario (NFU-O) to urge the Township of Wilmot Council to stand in opposition to the request from Cachet Developments Inc. for their proposed Ministerial Zoning Order (MZO) to develop a 1,200-unit community on farmland near the corner of Nafziger Road and Snyder’s Road between Baden and New Hamburg. Cachet Developments’ proposal undermines the very tenets of community engagement and environmental protection as outlined in the Township’s Strategic Plan. We strongly encourage you and your Council to preserve irreplaceable farmland by rejecting this proposal outright.
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.
Farmland in Ontario is a diminishing resource at the centre of our $39 billion agri-food sector, the largest economic sector in the province. The impact of the pandemic on supply chains over the past two years has taught us the importance of investing in resilient localized supply chains that will keep food on the shelves in our communities. The loss of farmland directly undermines the ability of Ontario farmers to grow food, threatening the province’s food security and economy.
The use of an MZO would allow the developers to bypass critical steps of the planning process, including community consultations and environmental assessments. The remarks made at the January 4th public meeting, including those made by our local farmer members, made it clear that a significant number of community organizations and residents do not support the proposed MZO.
On page 13 of the 2020 update to the Township of Wilmot Strategic Plan, under the goal of Community Engagement, the plan sets forth to “Respect and acknowledge the urban and rural elements of a growing community to balance competing interests”. Under the goal of Environmental Protection on page 15, the plan calls to “minimize the use of greenfield lands by supporting intensification within existing neighborhoods”. By supporting the proposed MZO your Council will be in direct contradiction to both of these stated goals.
MZOs were originally intended to be used only when there was no Official Plan in place. It is clear that there is no need for the use of an MZO in this instance as there is an Official Plan in place that directly contradicts the proposed MZO.
For these reasons we strongly urge the Township of Wilmot Council to stand in opposition to the proposed MZO. It is imperative that we not allow MZOs to undermine a democratic land use planning process or put Ontario’s farmland and local farm communities unnecessarily at risk.
President, National Farmers Union – Ontario