Greenbelt or foodbelt - axe it
Dave Gordon - Thursday, 25 February, 2010
You canít dislike a foodbelt or greenbelt can you?
If you do, are you then against food or the greening of our community?
There are councillors who think setting aside 2,000 hectares of Markham, Ontario
land for farming purposes, by municipal government fiat, will assist in environmental sustainability.
Carving homes or other real estate into farmland is irreversible, they say.
Sure, an Ontario Greenbelt Alliance-backed survey found 83 per cent of Markham
residents in favour of a proposed foodbelt that aimed to push development away
and preserve farmland.
Statistically, though, the survey sample was insignificant≠ ó 500 people out of
250,000 Markham adults. More
importantly, the survey found 61 per cent of respondents were not initially
familiar with the proposal, but supported the idea after pollsters explained it
This issue pits the politically vogue greenbelt proponents against farmers and
The former are receiving mostly positive exposure in the media.
The latter have been targets of mockery and contempt, particularly when those
who own or work the land unfairly acquire a guilty-by-association stigma when
allying with developers.
Farmers believe such a greenbelt policy would devalue their agricultural lands
and handcuff them if they wanted to ultimately sell what belonged to them and,
in some cases, their parents and grandparents.
This issue resonates in every one of our communities, where development and
growth pressures continually affect farms and the farming way of life.
Would you want your homeís property
appraisal to tank because politicians began tinkering with how
your land was to be used?
Would you think it fair to be told to whom you can and canít sell your
This designation would also legislate your career. If you own any of this land,
youíre a farmer. If you want to sell, you have to sell to a farmer. Imagine: a developer offers you 110% of your land's worth and a farmer, knowing the bind you're in, offers 20% of your land's worth - with the greenbelt policy, it's the farmer or bust.
If the land isnít being used as a farm, itís nothing more than open space.
If this policy becomes a reality in Markham,
some 30,000 new residents hoping to make their homes and businesses in Markham
in the next 20 years would have to move into intensified apartments and housing
in existing urban areas. By preventing normal growth to the more rural north,
the result would be new housing shoehorned into southern Markham.
Or those seeking new homes would have to look farther north and buy in
Stouffville or Newmarket, simply
putting more pressure on those communities and causing longer commutes, which
is certainly environmentally unfriendly.
There is nothing more precious to people than land ≠ó the land on which they
grow or grow up.
If the government seizes property for its own use or tells people what they can
and canít do with their property, then what other rights can our politicians
decide to change or remove?