Ontario’s Greenbelt – An Opportunity for Agro-ecological Transitions

Authors: Wayne Caldwell*, University of Guelph, Paul Kraehling*, University of Guelph
Topics: Agricultural Geography, Planning Geography, Canada
Keywords: planning, Ontario, Greenbelt, protecting farmland, agro-ecological farming
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Washington 4, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The Province of Ontario Canada has established a greenbelt along the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario surrounding Toronto, the provincial capital and the most populous city in Canada. The Greater Toronto Area is the fastest growing region in Ontario, with a forecasted increase of 2.5 million (39%) by 2036. Ontario’s Greenbelt legislation and plan represents an aggressive planning tool for the protection of the countryside including significant agricultural lands. The Greenbelt Plan aims to protect nearly 2 million acres of land and 5,500 highly productive farms. Long-term food security and an enhanced environment remain a goal within the region. The Greenbelt Plan extends beyond agricultural land to include parklands, open spaces and green corridors , increasing the green systems connectivity and the environmental quality of the region as a whole. This presentation will provide empirical results from a recently completed study looking at the success of this policy instrument in the protection of farmland. The author, through the measurement of land use planning applications has established that the Greenbelt Plan has been remarkably successful in protecting prime agricultural lands. An inherent tension remains, however. While the greenbelt fundamentally impacts the privately held land of individual farmers, these lands are increasingly viewed as a public resource. With these related perceptions there is increasingly an expectation that agriculture will become more sustainable, with a transition from conventional farming to agro-ecological farming. This presentation will provide a better understanding of the socio-economic and policy factors that hinder or enhance transitions towards agro-ecological farming.

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