This consultation was open from:
March 16, 2020
to May 15, 2020
We are proposing changes to land use policies in the Hearst Administrative District to facilitate the sale or lease of Crown land for agriculture purposes. These changes will increase opportunities for agriculture industries and will promote the agricultural economy within Northern Ontario.
Crown land in Northern Ontario
Northern Ontario is one of the few areas in the province with an abundance of relatively affordable land. Given that land is the single largest cost in the establishment or expansion of a farm, the opportunity to access affordable and sufficiently sized blocks of land provides promise for agricultural growth in the north.
The demand for Crown land for agricultural use in Northern Ontario has increased due to:
- changes in climate
- agricultural economics
- agricultural practices
- government promotion of agriculture in the north
Other provincial government initiatives have contributed to the increase in demand for Crown land for agriculture, including:
- the Northern Ontario Agri-Food Strategy
- the Northern Livestock Pilot
The Northern Livestock Pilot study area falls within Northern Ontario's Great Clay Belt along the Highway 11 corridor between Cochrane and Hearst.
The lack of access to Crown land, which makes up nearly 95% of all land in the north, is a barrier to agricultural development in Northern Ontario. It is difficult to access Crown land for agriculture due to:
- area-specific land use policies that do not permit the disposition (i.e. sale or lease) of Crown land for agriculture
- restrictions (e.g., dispositions for farm expansion only and not for new farms) within land use policies that permit the disposition of Crown land for agriculture:
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) is responsible for dispositions of Crown land in Ontario. Within the Hearst Administrative District there are 5 land use areas that do not permit the disposition, or they restrict the disposition, of Crown Land for agriculture. These policies have been in place, with little to no changes, since 1983.
Proposed changes to land use policies
We are proposing to amend the land use direction within these 5 land use areas so that the disposition of Crown lands for agriculture would be included as a permitted use in these areas. These changes would allow MNRF to consider requests for Crown lands for agriculture within these areas.
Decisions on specific requests for land for agricultural use would be made following an evaluation and assessment of potential environmental affects using MNRF’s Class Environmental Assessment for Resource Stewardship and Facility Development Projects.
We anticipate the amendment to the land use policies will:
- facilitate the access to Crown land
- increase opportunities within the agriculture industries
- promote agricultural economy within the identified region
For example, the amendment could allow the Northern Livestock Project to move forward as well as other potential projects.
These changes also have the potential to impact the amount of Crown land that is available for other uses, such as the area of productive forest available to the forest industry. We anticipate these impacts to be minor as environmental planning will consider:
- the potential impacts of specific dispositions of Crown land on other users of Crown land
- other potential environmental impacts
- the amendment is being posted to the Crown Land Use Policy Atlas in addition to being posted as a proposal notice to the Environmental Registry
- direct notification is being issued to local stakeholders such as stakeholder committees and interest groups, parties believed to be potentially affected, and others known to have a specific interest in the issue
We will consider all comments received during the comment period as part of our decision-making process. The last day to comment is May 14, 2020.
View materials in person
Important notice: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, viewing supporting materials in person is not available at this time.
Please reach out to the Contact listed in this notice to see if alternate arrangements can be made.
Ontario Government Building
122 Government Road West
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