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FarmStart and many other Ontario organizations have signed the following letter addressed to the Ministers of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Natural Resources and Agriculture Food, and Rural Affairs as part of the review of the our Provincial Planning Statement.
The letter is intended to express our deep concern about proposed revisions to the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) which fail to protect prime farmland and significant natural heritage features from aggregates extraction. We believe that these changes are fundamentally at odds with the proposed PPS vision which has been amended to emphasize such values as sustainable and resilient communities, human health, biodiversity, resilience to climate change and Ontario- grown food.
The current PPS has been faulted for giving clear preference to aggregates extraction over prime farmland, water resources, wetlands, woodlands and wildlife habitat. Unfortunately, the revised draft includes changes that would offer even more preferential treatment to aggregates extraction.
In particular the letter addresses the promise of ‘rehabilitation’ that creates a dangerous policy loophole that would allow aggregates extraction to proceed in prime farmland, including specialty crop areas, and in significant natural heritage features.
We understand that aggregates are a valuable resource, and that extraction must and will occur. However, there are other fundamentally important values at stake including food, water and biodiversity. In an era of climate change, ongoing biodiversity loss, and increasing public demand for local foods, the government must not allow aggregates extraction to take priority over the protection of these other values.