Saving the Central Experimental Farm and enabling Hospital Renewal

The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change (with responsibility for Parks Canada Agency and National Historic Sites of Canada)
The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage (with responsibility for the National Capital Commission)

Dear Ministers McKenna, MacAulay, and Joly,

We would like to congratulate you on your recent election to Parliament and to your appointment to your respective Ministries. The much-publicized commitment of the new government to transparency, scientific accuracy, and the democratic process are warmly welcomed, and it is in support of this commitment that the National Farmers Union-Ontario is writing to request that you reconsider the previous government’s decision in November 2014 to sever sixty acres of the Central Experimental Farm (CEF) for the Ottawa Hospital.

The scientific, national, and international significance of this land is irreplaceable, and there is a significant ongoing desire to retain this land as an integral part of Canada’s climate change strategy and to fulfill a deep need for public agricultural research. The land proposed for the transfer is composed of scientifically and historically significant acreage, which formed part of the original Central Experimental Farm with records going back as far as 1886. Scientists have conducted long-term soil tests on this land, which contributed to the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize- winning International Panel on Climate Change reports.

Studies done in the open-air laboratory at the Central Experimental Farm directly benefit Canada’s agriculture sector, an industry responsible for over $100 billion or almost 7% of national GDP. Climate change research is integral to assisting Canada’s farmers’ adaptation to climatic upheaval, and this will directly contribute to the food security of Canadians. Sixty acres may be only 5 percent of the total landmass of the CEF, but it is nearly 15 percent of the viable research lands, a significant impact on the research capacity of the CEF. Moreover, the impacts would go well beyond these sixty acres. The imposition of a large structure such as a hospital would impact drainage, wind patterns, surface heating, road systems, and more. It might also curtail typical farming operations in the nearby vicinity, since one can foresee the hospital objecting to the spraying of crops and the spreading of fertilizers, composts, and manure.
For more information or to arrange a meeting/phone call, please contact Sarah Bakker, General Manager of the National Farmers Union – Ontario at office@nfuontario.ca or 1-888-832-9638.

Respectfully,
Karen Eatwell
President National Farmers Union – Ontario