OMAFRA's draft Guidance Document for Agricultural Impact Assessments supports provincial plan policies in A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2020; Greenbelt Plan, 2017; Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan, 2017 and Niagara Escarpment Plan, 2017 that require an agricultural impact assessment for certain types of development (i.e., settlement area boundary expansions, infrastructure projects and mineral aggregate operations within prime agricultural areas).

What is an Agricultural Impact Assessment?

An Agricultural Impact Assessment is defined in the Greenbelt Plan and A Place to Grow as:

  • A study that evaluates the potential impacts of non-agricultural development on agricultural operations and the Agricultural System and recommends ways to avoid or, if avoidance is not possible, minimize and mitigate adverse impacts.

An Agricultural Impact Assessment:

  • Identifies and assesses potential impacts from development on agriculture (including impacts to farmland, farm operations and the surrounding area; and within the Greater Golden Horseshoe impacts on the Agricultural System)
  • Recommends measures or strategies to avoid impacts (e.g. consider alternative locations where possible)
  • Recommends measures to minimize or mitigate impacts (e.g. through site design, use of buffers)
  • Addresses site rehabilitation to agriculture, where applicable

The Agricultural Impact Assessment Guidance Document

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs' draft Agricultural Impact Assessment Guidance Document provides technical information for municipal planners, agricultural and environmental assessment professionals, as well as aggregate, development and infrastructure proponents.

It also:

  • Outlines when an Agricultural Impact Assessment is required as well as the general content and process for undertaking an Agricultural Impact Assessment.
  • Identifies best practices and resources for mitigating impacts to farmland, farm operations and the Agricultural System.
  • Addresses rehabilitation to agriculture where applicable e.g. for mineral aggregate operations within prime agricultural areas.
  • Helps to ensure that Agricultural Impact Assessments are conducted in a consistent manner and streamlined/integrated with other legislative processes where applicable (e.g. with Environmental Assessment approvals).

Related Links

Agricultural Impact Assessment requirements

OMAFRA's Rural Planners

Training Resources

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