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Power in Policy: Measuring Farmland Loss in Ontario and Testing the Strength of the Greenbelt Act

Authors: Rachel Singer*, Guelph University, Xiaoyuan Wan, Guelph University, Wayne Caldwell, Guelph University
Topics: Agricultural Geography, Urban and Regional Planning, Rural Geography
Keywords: Rural Planning and Development, Urban Fringe, Farmland Protection, Prime Agriculture, Greenbelt, Urban-Rural Recoupling
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The most productive agricultural soils in the world often lie in close proximity to cities. Consequently, farmland is increasingly facing immense pressure from urbanization-related activities such as residential development, commercial and industrial operations, and aggregate extraction, particularly within the urban fringe. This research explores these tensions in Ontario, Canada, assessing the strength of top-down policy, primarily the 2005 Greenbelt Act, in preserving agricultural land. This project tracks official plan amendments alongside traditional data collection, a methodological approach that offers more precise measurement and understanding of farmland loss. The presentation will report on development trends within the data and put forward recommendations for policy regarding the protection of prime soils, support for agri-food networks, and connectivity of green space in rural and peri-urban contexts.

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