Prime agricultural land means specialty crop areas and/or Canada Land Inventory Class, 1, 2 and 3 lands. Prime agricultural areas are areas where prime agricultural lands predominate and where there is a local concentration of farms which exhibit characteristics of ongoing agriculture.
The Township of Oro-Medonte is a predominately Rural and Agricultural community. Agriculture and Agriculture-related businesses are significant drivers of the local economy. The Township includes a substantial amount of high capability agricultural land, interspersed with natural areas and settlement areas.
Provincial & County Policy
The Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) and the County of Simcoe Official Plan Policies provide direction on specific issues. The Township Official Plan policies must conform to the PPS and County Official Plan, which set out the following policies:
Long Term Protection
Prime agricultural areas shall be protected for long-term use for agriculture. Prime agricultural lands and areas are required to be designated in local Official Plans. Agricultural uses and normal farm practices are to be promoted and protected.
The province has identified an Agricultural System for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, comprised of prime agricultural areas (including specialty crop areas) and rural lands where farming and related uses are ongoing, as well as the agri-food network. The agri-food network does not need to be designated in Official Plans, although policies should provide for its long-term viability. The Township will designate prime agricultural areas in accordance with the unrefined provincial agricultural land base mapping, until the County of Simcoe (upper-tier municipality) refines and incorporates the provincial agricultural land base mapping into its Official Plan through a municipal comprehensive review.
In prime agricultural areas permitted uses and activities include: agricultural uses, agriculture-related uses and on-farm diversified uses.
These uses must be compatible with, and not hinder, the surrounding agricultural operations.
New land uses must comply with the Minimum Distance Separation formulae.
Lot creation in Prime Agricultural Areas is discouraged and the creation of new residential lots in prime agricultural areas can only occur under certain circumstances (e.g. a residence surplus to a farming operation).
Limited non-agricultural uses are permitted in Prime Agricultural Areas, including: mineral aggregate resource extraction, infrastructure, and limited non-residential uses.
Existing Policy & Legislation
Provincial Policy Statement, 2014
Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2017
County of Simcoe Official Plan, 2016
OMAFRA Guidelines on Permitted Uses in Ontario's Prime Agricultural Areas
Current Township Policies
The current Official Plan aims to preserve areas demonstrating high capability for agricultural purposes while also ensuring maintenance of the agricultural/rural character, and providing for establishment of agriculture-related uses to support farming viability.
Sections A2.4, A3.2.1, C1, and D6 of the Current Official Plan contain policies for the protection and use of Agricultural lands. Current Official Plan policies require that:
The primary land use is agriculture, and other permitted uses include: detached dwellings, bed & breakfast establishments, home occupations/home industries, dog kennels, forestry and resource management uses, farm implement dealers, storage facilities for agricultural products, and agriculturally-related commercial uses, among others.
New specialized agricultural uses, such as market gardens and specialty crop production, are supported, and directed towards existing 10 hectare lots.
To allow farmers to carry out normal farm practices, Minimum Distance Separation formulae 1 & 2 shall be applied.
Zoning by-law amendments are required to permit home industries, agriculturally-related commercial developments, dog kennels, and expansions to existing tourist commercial uses and recreational uses, subject to meeting particular criteria.
New and revised Official Plan policies will continue to recognize the importance of agriculture to the economy and the character of the community. Prime agricultural lands will be protected over the long-term, and connections to the agri-food network will be enhanced.
What changes would you like to see?
The province has provided strong direction for protection of the Agricultural System. The province’s Agricultural System for the Greater Golden Horseshoe was issued on February 9, 2018 and can be viewed online through the Agricultural System Portal. The Growth Plan requires that, as of the date issued, OMAFRA’s agricultural land base mapping applies to all land use decisions. OMAFRA also released Implementation Procedures for the Agricultural System in Ontario’s Greater Golden Horseshoe. In keeping with the Growth Plan, the unrefined prime agricultural area base mapping issued by the province will be used to designate prime agricultural areas. OMAFRA also provides guidelines on permitted uses in prime agricultural areas, which help to protect prime agricultural areas for agricultural uses, in accordance with PPS, 2014.
Do you think that the existing Agricultural policies are sufficient to protect high-quality land for agricultural/agriculture-related uses?
How should the province's Agricultural System for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) be incorporated into the Official Plan? Can you think of other ways, beyond implementation of the province’s Agricultural System for the GGH, to support a continuous productive land base and the agri-food network?
OMAFRA has released “Guidelines on Permitted Uses in Ontario’s Prime Agricultural Areas”, available online, which provides clarity surrounding the range of uses allowed in prime agricultural lands, and in prime agricultural areas more broadly. What other types of agriculture-related uses do you think should be allowed to occur in agricultural areas? What other types of uses should not be allowed, and why?
How big should agricultural lots and operations be? Should there be a minimum or maximum? Should the size of the agricultural operation be determined through completion of an agricultural viability report?
Urban farming, such as the keeping of chickens, community gardens, and rooftop gardens, are becoming more common. Do you think the Official Plan should include urban farming policies? If yes, should these policies identify the areas of the Township where these should be permitted?
Please provide any other comments you may have for consideration in the development of new policies.