Adam: Ottawa's new Official Plan just might protect farmland

By Mohamed Adam, Ottawa Citizen, May 21, 2020

The stage is now set for Ottawa Council to reshape the city for the next quarter-century after the joint planning, agriculture and rural affairs committee approved the expansion of the city’s urban boundary this week.

This is no surprise. Given the character of the joint committee – and indeed council – holding the line on boundary expansion, as urban community associations and environmental groups wanted, was never a winning proposition. Now the boundary will expand by between 1,350 and 1,650 hectares to accommodate homes for hundreds of thousands of additional people over the next 25 years.

(...)Sprawl works because of the availability of cheap farmland to develop. Provincial rules protect prime farmland, usually the first three of seven classes. But as often happens, developers and speculators buy farmland, let it sit for years to turn into scrub, then apply to develop the land. In the past, town and city councils eager for property tax dollars approved the new homes. That’s how, over the years, quaint, historic villages were turned into the new suburbia. But if farmland of any kind is now off-limits to development, where to build?

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