The world’s largest protected Greenbelt encompasses forests, wetlands, rivers, lakes and valuable Class 1 and 2 farmland. Ontario farmers, who provide food security, are opposing the provincial government’s proposal to remove 3,000 hectares (7,400 acres) of land.
Farmers are also opposing a Greenbelt expressway. In collaboration with the David Suzuki Foundation (DSF), Rav Singh, a youth adviser with the National Farmers Union — Ontario has launched an ad campaign with one clear message, “Highway 413 would destroy my farm.”
In a year when record numbers of people in Ontario are relying on food banks and climate change is fuelling devastating impacts like wildfires, floods and drought across the country, it’s utterly absurd to contemplate the destruction of climate-resilient, top-class soil.
Just last month, Quebec farm owners pressed their provincial government for more support in tackling climate change following an extraordinary season of rain and hailstorms that led to extensive crop damage, resulting in millions in losses.
Local agriculture is an essential contribution to fighting food insecurity in Ontario as it provides fresh, healthy, accessible food while reducing carbon footprints.
Local agriculture is an essential contribution to fighting food insecurity in Ontario as it provides fresh, healthy, accessible food while reducing carbon footprints. A resilient local food system supports the economy without relying on global supply chains that will likely face disruption due to extreme weather events as global temperatures continue to rise.
In fact, these arguments support Ontario’s Greenbelt expansion rather than accommodating unnecessary urban development for the profit of corporate landowners. Not to mention the 29 species at risk that live in the Greenbelt. The consequential decline in wildlife would cause Greenbelt ecosystems to radically change and ultimately disrupt the food chain we humans are a part of.
The consequential decline in wildlife would cause Greenbelt ecosystems to radically change and ultimately disrupt the food chain we humans are a part of.
Judging by the success of Singh’s ad, which helped garner thousands of new signatures on DSF’s stop highway 413 petition, fellow Ontarians support protecting local agriculture.
Farmers are not willing to give up prime farmland to the province’s short-sighted plans without a fight. This ad campaign is only the beginning of the NFUO’s partnership with DSF. Community members can expect to hear from more local farmers affected by the threat of Highway 413 over the coming months.
This op-ed was originally published in the Brampton Guardian.