The Township of Springwater appreciates the opportunity to provide comment on the 2017 draft Agricultural and Natural Heritage Systems Mapping and Implementation Procedures to the MNRF and OMAFRA. The Municipality acknowledges that many of the Township’s comments relate to both the draft Agricultural and Natural Heritage processes and as such all comments are provided to both Ministries for completeness. The Township provides the following comments for review:
Draft Agricultural System (EBR Posting # 013-0968)
•As Springwater Township is home to thousands of hectares of high quality, productive agricultural land, Township staff are supportive of the Province’s efforts to protect, maintain and enhance the Agricultural system in Ontario.
•In addition to Springwater’s vast agricultural resources, the Township is home to the internationally recognized ‘Minesing Wetlands’ which is an Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI) totaling roughly 6,000 hectares. As part of the draft Agricultural System Mapping, it appears the Provincially Significant ‘Minesing Wetlands’ have been identified as “Areas in active agriculture plus areas identified by OMAFRA as having agricultural potential”. Due to the natural heritage and ecological significance of the Minesing Wetlands, the Township recommends that the Province review the actual ‘agricultural potential’ the wetlands have and consider refining the draft mapping to reflect such significance and remove the wetland from the Agricultural System Mapping. Similar considerations should be applied to existing Areas of Natural Scientific Interest (ANSI) across the Greater Golden Horseshoe.
•It appears that existing above-water aggregate operations (pits / quarries) have been excluded from the agricultural system mapping (I.e. Area south of Centre Vespra Settlement Area). Township staff note there are a number of examples of aggregate operations being rehabilitated to crop producing farmland once stone/gravel have been removed. Staff recognize that site by site mapping revisions may be too small for the scope of this exercise, but ask that the Province consider agricultural after-use rehabilitation on a comprehensive Greater Golden Horseshoe wide basis.
•Established Industrial Parks (e.g. Bertram Industrial Parkway) and Highway Commercial uses within the rural areas should be excluded from the agricultural system mapping as it may not be appropriate to locate crop producing lands within such areas.
•It appears the Settlement Area boundary for the community of Hillsdale is not accurate, specifically to the east of Highway 93. The area east of Highway 93 currently contains a Provincially Significant Wetland (PSW) and should be reviewed for ‘Agricultural Potential’ in line with the above ANSI related comments.
•Township staff respectfully requests that Agricultural/Agri-food network GIS data layers be circulated to the County’s/Townships such that more advanced analysis/review can be undertaken to provide for more accurate refinements.
•Staff suggests that the web-based portal could be updated to include “On-Farm Value Added” information to provide viewers with additional options for locating and supporting the local Agri-food network. Examples of On-Farm Value Added could include, farmers markets or local produce direct sale stalls, ‘pick-your-own’ operations, petting zoos, venues for gatherings/weddings, etc.
Draft Natural Heritage System (EBR Posting # 013-1014)
•Township staff respectfully requests that Natural Heritage GIS data layers be circulated to the Upper and Lower tier municipality such that more advanced analysis/review can be undertaken.
•Staff is particularly interested in how the County of Simcoe’s comprehensive Greenlands system will be affected by the new Natural Heritage System. Ultimately both systems should match and concur to provide a consistent policy framework for lower-tier Municipalities. The Township fully recognizes that further review, analysis and updates will occur through the County’s next Municipal Comprehensive Review (MCR) and the Township Official Plan Review process will need to reflect natural heritage protections within both Provincial and County legislation.
•It appears the Settlement Area boundary for the community of Hillsdale is not accurate, specifically to the east of Highway 93. This area east of Highway 93 currently contains a Provincially Significant Wetland (PSW), but is within the approved settlement area boundary of Hillsdale. Staff recognizes this area as having very limited development potential.
•Council for the Township of Springwater requests that the “Minesing Wetlands” be recognized for its environmental significance and be provided with protective status similar to significant areas found within the Niagara Escarpment Plan (NEP) or the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan (ORMCP).
Chris Russell BES, MCIP, RPP
[Original Comment ID: 211032]
Submitted February 12, 2018 11:05 AM