Ontario has backed off a housing proposal that farmers say would have had a “catastrophic” impact on farmland and livestock operations.
Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark proposed a series of regulations along with a bill that would allow for more housing to be built beyond urban boundaries and in rural areas.
But farmers expressed concerns about a proposed move to allow up to three new lots on parcels of farmland, saying it would hamper growth of livestock farming, fragment the agricultural land base, and risk inflating farmland prices, shutting out prospective new farmers.
More than a dozen groups including the National Farmers Union — Ontario, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, the Beef Farmers of Ontario and the Dairy Farmers of Ontario issued a joint letter urging the government to abandon the proposal.
Clark has now told farmers in a letter that he has heard their concerns, and the government will not be moving forward on the lot severance proposal.
The government originally suggested the severances as a way to support multigenerational farm families, but Clark says he is now extending the public comment period for the other regulations, to give him more time to consider alternative ways to do that.
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