An Agricultural System for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (which includes the County of Peterborough) has been identified by the Province. This mapping can also be accessed in more detail from our public GIS site by expanding the Natural Resource Areas layer group and selecting the 'Prov Ag Land Base' layer.

The Provincial Growth Plan requires prime agricultural areas to be designated in accordance with this mapping and protected for long-term use for agriculture. This mapping does not apply until it is implemented through the County Official Plan, and there is an opportunity to refine the mapping at this time.

Agriculture is a matter of Provincial interest and prime agricultural areas must be protected in accordance with the Provincial Policy Statement and Provincial Growth Plan.

Prime Areas and Candidate Areas

The Provincial Agricultural System identifies both prime areas and candidate areas. When undertaking refinements, candidate areas may be added to prime agricultural areas or designated rural lands.

Prime areas are those areas where prime agricultural lands (soil classes 1 to 3) predominate plus other associated classes 4 to 7 lands, and additional areas where there is a local concentration of farms with characteristics of ongoing agriculture. The prime agricultural areas shown in the provincial agricultural land base map include lands identified by OMAFRA through its Land Evaluation and Area Review (LEAR) and other analysis.

Candidate areas are areas that are equal to or larger than 250 hectares which received medium LEAR scores and are in agricultural production (based on Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Annual Crop Inventory).

Refining the Agricultural System

Refinements to the Provincial mapping are an upper-tier (County) responsibility under the Growth Plan. It is to be done collaboratively with lower-tier Municipalities (Townships) and must be done consistently across Municipal boundaries. The process to refine the Agricultural Systems mapping must follow the criteria outlined in the Implementation Procedures for the Agricultural System in Ontario's Greater Golden Horseshoe. Any changes to the Agricultural System must be justified in accordance with the Implementation Procedures and will ultimately be approved by the Province.

Approach Taken for Draft Official Plan

As part of the development of draft Land Use Schedules, our Technical Advisory Committee members reviewed the Provincial Agricultural Systems mapping to determine where refinements should be made and could be justified in accordance with the Implementation Procedures. Air photos, street view, existing Official Plan and Zoning information and local knowledge of the areas were used to make the refinements. This method was an appropriate step towards completing the refinement process, and the draft Official Plan has incorporated these changes for public review and comment.

The draft Official Plan includes both a “Rural” and an “Agriculture” land use designation for rural areas. This indicates that the rural area is comprised of both prime agricultural areas (those lands designated “Agriculture”) and rural lands that may support agriculture or the agri-food network in addition to other rural land uses - these areas are not prime agricultural areas (designated “Rural”). For absolute clarity, lands designated "Agriculture" are subject to the prime agricultural area policies in the Provincial Policy Statement.

Report to Council

In December 2020, a focus report titled Focus on Agriculture and Rural Areas, was provided to County Council that outlined the current Provincial policy context, key considerations to be had and what to expect going forward.