“My intention is not to graze sheep on the south part of the 401. And anyone who would suggest . . . that perhaps we don’t need (more land), I hope they’re not suggesting we graze sheep on it, because that’s not the image that I have for London.”
Sheep may safely graze
Whilst the shepherd is watching.
Where the wise and good rule
Peace will also reign there
And there will be peace throughout the world.
Some of the land the Fontana has his eye on is outside of the urban growth boundary and currently zoned agricultural. I doubt that he will be able to get that changed by the end of the year.
When I was elected to the Board of Control a little more than four years ago, I was appointed to what was then the Planning committee. The city had just embarked on a provincially mandated review of the Official Plan which was approved by Council in early in 2008 and submitted to the province. It got the provincial nod only last year following challenges at the Ontario Municipal Board.
The review included an extensive analysis of the City’s growth projections and land needs. We found we had enough land within the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) to last us for the next 20 to 50 years, depending on the type of use. Despite extensive lobbying from developers and landowners who wanted their lands included within the UBG, Council held firm, although individuals were welcome to make a specific development application that would require an Official Plan Amendment. That was the case of the Sun Life Financial saga. You can read about it here.
The Official Plan contains City Council's objectives and policies to guide the short-term and long-term physical development of all lands within the boundary of the municipality. Although it can be amended between revisions, any changes have to be consistent with the provincial legislation, particularly the Planning Act and the Provincial Policy Statement 2005 (PPS).
The PPS sets the policy foundation for regulating the development and use of land. That means that the City or the Mayor can’t just decide on their own to pave over agricultural land.
In fact agricultural lands for raising crops or livestock receive special protection in the PPS. And no wonder.
Canada has a large land area but most of it is unsuitable for farming. The land in Southern Ontario, however, is among the most fertile in the world. Still, agricultural land is disappearing at an alarming rate to residential, commercial and industrial development. In Ward 9 I have witnessed the disappearance of acre after acre of fruit trees and vegetable crops along with livestock operations. Already Canadians depend on imports for fully two-thirds of the food they consume.
Of particular concern in the PPS are specialty crops such as tender fruits, grapes and vegetables which require the suitable soils to be found in abundance in our area. Planning authorities are required to establish specialty crop areas using the province’s evaluation procedures.
In prime agricultural areas the only permitted uses and activities are agricultural uses and limited secondary uses and agriculture-related uses, such as a retail outlet for sales of produce or some type of processing plant. The latter two uses have to be limited in scale. I doubt that a huge industrial warehousing operation would be in line with the PPS.
The PPS did not exist when Fontana served on Council in the 1980’s so perhaps he can be excused for not taking it into account.
But certainly there were sheep, and wolves looking to make a killing. You just don’t expect that the shepherd will be in cahoots with the wolves.