The candidates were asked about the loss of farmland and natural areas at the All Candidates Meeting held on Sept. 28th, 2011. The following is the question presented and below are the candidates responses. (Note: A submission from Rob Milligan, PC, has not been received yet)
Farmland and natural areas are being lost at an alarming rate in Ontario through urban development. This is in spite of the policy direction in Ontario’s plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (Places to Grow) to “identify natural systems and prime agricultural areas, and enhance the conservation of these valuable resources” If your party formed the next Provincial government, how would it address this issue?
The Green Party of Ontario plans to pay farmers and landowners for their environmental services managing natural areas, streams, forests and special ecosystems. We will protect natural systems such as the Oak Ridges Moraine, which is central to the drinking water quality of millions of Ontario residents in accordance with the Ontario Source Water Protection plan in accordance with the Clean Water Act. We will increase support for Land trusts through our policy of raising the price for aggregate removal and using the $200 million in funds to protect and rehabilitate land in the province. As well, we will protect our ground water resources by increasing the charges to companies with water-taking licences to raise another 240 million dollars for water and sewage improvements which will protect lakes, rivers and streams and the biota that depend on them. We will make the family farm sustainable so that farmers do not have to farm larger tracts of land to be economically viable and we will pursue the Places to Grow Act to re-direct development away from class 1-3 agricultural lands and to intensify urban land use to create communities that are walkable and less auto dependant.
KIRA MEES, Ontario NDP
Despite plans to prevent sprawl and plan development, it keeps happening. We will put an end to government backroom deals to exempt developers from growth limits, such as those set out in the Greenbelt Act, and we will balance the playing field when it comes to new development, by putting an end to developer “SLAPP” lawsuits used to silence local opposition to mega-projects.
We will make it easier for Ontarians to take transit by freezing fares. We will achieve this by having the province take on half of the cost of operating municipal transit systems. By offering to split costs we free up funds to keep fares low but also give municipalities funds to improve service and make capital investments. We will also move forward with plans to expand our transit system and we’ll be making more announcements as the campaign progresses.
LOU RINALDI, Ontario Liberal Party (MPP)
Ontario Liberals are protecting Ontario’s prime farmland and greenspaces from development through the establishment of Ontario’s Greenbelt, which is the size of Prince Edward Island. The PCs have opposed the Greenbelt — and the worst kept secret is that they will weaken the Greenbelt’s protections and open it up to developers.
Our planning policies have sought to ensure that prime agricultural land is protected from things like urban creep. We have maintained policies that do not allow large parcels of agricultural land to be severed for residential purposes.
Through our landmark Green Energy Act , Ontario Liberals have specifically sought to protect prime agricultural land by mandating that no renewable energy projects — wind or solar — will be permitted on Class 1 or 2 farmland.
We have also helped farmers protect and preserve prime farmland through our environmental stewardship initiatives. Since 2005, we have supported more than 20,000 on-farm projects that help protect our environment.