Annual Report of the Normal Farm Practices Protection Board April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016

Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Introduction
  3. Complaints about Farm Practices
  4. Board Activities
  5. Board Governance
  6. Operational Performance
  7. Financial Performance
  8. Board Appointees
  9. Acknowledgements
  10. Appendix A
  11. Appendix B

Executive Summary

This report presents the activities and performance of the Normal Farm Practices Protection Board for the fiscal year April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016.

The Normal Farm Practices Protection Board (the Board) is established under the Farming and Food Production Protection Act, 1998 (the Act) to hear and rule on issues pertaining to farm practices.

The Act provides that farmers are not liable in nuisance for any disturbance arising from an agricultural operation that is carried on as a normal farm practice. Nuisances covered are those arising from odour, dust, flies, light, smoke, noise and vibration. The Act also exempts farmers from municipal by-laws that restrict their normal farm practices.

In accordance with the Preamble of the Act, the Board seeks to balance the needs of the agricultural community with provincial health, safety and environmental concerns. Board hearings are less formal than the courts. Hearings are managed in such a way that any complainant or respondent may present their case with or without legal counsel. This ensures that all citizens have access to the services of the Board.

During this period, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) received 107 nuisance and by-law complaints about farm practices. OMAFRA agricultural engineers and environmental specialists resolved the majority of these complaints through the compulsory conflict resolution process with the parties. Twelve unresolved complaints resulted in new applications to the Board for hearings.

The Board convened nine hearings, of which seven were new applications, and two were on-going hearings from previous years. Of these nine hearings, two were completed and one application was withdrawn after the prehearing/settlement conference. The hearings for the remaining new applications will be dealt with in the new fiscal year.

The Board successfully met performance standards for resolving complaints without a hearing and the length of time to issue Board decisions after the completion of hearings. In regards to accepting or rejecting an application for hearing, the Board met its performance objective of 20 days or less for all but one of the twelve new applications it received in 2015-2016. In this instance, the application dealt with a complex issue, and the applicants had previously applied and withdrew their application for hearing in the previous fiscal year. The review of the application required 21 days before acceptance by the Board.

Despite managing its heaviest case load in 30 years, the Board did not receive any complaints regarding its quality of service.

This annual report also details Board activities regarding assistance provided to clients, governance, meetings and Board expenditures. Total operating expenditures for the 2015-2016 fiscal year were $115,280. This amount is 72 percent higher than the budget of $67,000, for reasons explained in the section on Financial Performance, including number and complexity of cases.

Introduction

The Normal Farm Practices Protection Board (the Board) is established under the Farming and Food Production Protection Act, 1998 (the Act) to rule on issues pertaining to farm practices. The Act protects farmers from nuisance complaints, provided the farmer is following normal farm practices. Nuisances covered are those arising from odour, dust, flies, light, smoke, noise and vibration. The Act also protects farmers from municipal by-laws that restrict their normal farm practices.

The Act defines "normal farm practice" as a practice that:

  1. is conducted in a manner consistent with proper and acceptable customs and standards as established and followed by similar agricultural operations under similar circumstances, or
  2. makes use of innovative technology in a manner consistent with proper advanced farm management practices.

OMAFRA agricultural engineers or environmental specialists conduct conflict resolution on each complaint. The conflict resolution process successfully resolved 89 percent of all complaints. For unresolved cases, the Board may conduct a pre-hearing/settlement conference with the parties. The pre-hearing conference identifies issues and determines hearing logistics, and the settlement conference is a further attempt at settlement. If the settlement conference is unsuccessful, the Board conducts a hearing to determine, among other things, whether the farm practice involved is a "normal farm practice."

If the Board rules that the farm practice is "normal", the farmer can continue it in spite of the nuisance complaint or the restrictive by-law. If the practice is ruled "not normal", the farmer would have to cease from the practice or adhere to the by-law. The Board may also rule that the practice would be normal if specified modifications are made.

Complaints about Farm Practices

OMAFRA received 107 complaints regarding farm practices or restrictive by-laws in 2015-2016. The numbers of complaints received annually for the last five years are shown in Table 1. The table also shows the distribution of these complaints by nuisance type and by-law for each year. The total number of complaints has decreased substantially (by 48 percent) over the last four years, from 206 complaints in 2011-2012 to 107complaints in 2015-2016.

Table 1 shows the distribution of complaints by year. The table shows a decrease in complaints for all nuisances types (odour, noise, dust, flies, smoke, light, and vibration) over the past five years. However, there has been a greater number of municipal complaints in recent years. Complaints have arisen from farmers regarding two distinct types of municipal by-laws: site alteration and tree-cutting. Site alteration by-laws seek to limit the quantities of soil that can be imported onto farms in a municipality and set conditions for importing soil. Tree-cutting by-laws limit the trees that can be cut in the municipality. In instances where farmers consider these by-laws to be too restrictive, they have applied to the Board for a ruling exempting their farm practices from the by-laws.

Table 1. Farm Practice Complaints Received by OMAFRA
  Odour Noise Dust Flies Smoke Light Vibration By-Law Total
2015-2016
45
28
2
20
0
1
1
10
107
40%
26%
1%
19%
0%
1%
1%
9%
2014-2015 
48
45
2
20
1
0
0
15
131
37%
34%
2%
15%
1%
0%
0%
11%
2013-2014 
53
56
7
18
3
0
0
19
156
34%
36%
4%
12%
2%
0%
0%
12%
2012-2013 
65
42
7
35
3
3
0
9
164
40%
26%
4%
21%
2%
2%
0%
5%
2011-2012 
77
73
10
34
4
6
0
2
206
37%
35%
5%
17%
2%
3%
0%
1%

Table 2 shows the distribution of complaints by county. Table 2 shows that Niagara Region has a greater concentration of complaints than any other county. This is due in part to the high population density in an agricultural area that is very productive in grapes, fruits and other high-value agricultural products. The primary type of complaint in Niagara is noise. These were related primarily to the use of bird cannons (bird bangers), noise-makers designed to protect grape harvests from birds.

Table 2. Distribution of Complaints Received in 2015/2016 by County
County Odour Noise Dust Flies Light Vibration By-Law County Totals
Brant
3
1
1
5
Chatham-Kent
1
1
Durham
2
2
Elgin
1
1
2
Essex
2
3
5
Grey
1
1
Haldimand
2
1
4
Halton
1
1
Huron
4
1
1
1
1
8
Kawartha Lakes
1
1
Lambton
3
3
Leeds & Grenville
1
1
2
Lennex & Addington
2
2
1
5
Middlesex
2
2
Niagara
8
16
1
10
1
36
Norfolk
1
3
1
5
Oxford
1
3
3
7
Peel
1
1
Perth
4
4
Renfrew
1
1
Simcoe
1
3
4
Stormont, Dundas, Glengarry
3
3
Timiskaming
1
1
Waterloo
1
1
Wellington
2
2
Total
45
28
2
20
1
1
10
107

The operations of the Board are governed by the Act and its own Rules of Practice and Procedure. The Rules require that complaints about farm practices go through the conflict resolution process conducted by OMAFRA agricultural engineers and environmental specialists before scheduling a hearing by the Board. Through this process, 95 of the 107 nuisance and by-law complaints received in 2015-2016 were resolved, which translated into an 89 percent success rate. The remaining 11 percent (twelve cases) went on to the Board for processing.

Board Activities

Hearings

The Board managed 14 cases in 2015-2016. Twelve cases were new applications and two cases were applications received in a previous fiscal year. In 2015-2016, the Board convened nine full hearings and five pre-hearing conferences during the fiscal year 2015-2016. Seven of these hearings were new applications that came to the Board following the compulsory conflict resolution process, while two continued from previous years. Three of the new applications were submitted close to the end of the fiscal year and were accepted but prehearing conferences were unable to be scheduled until the beginning of the new fiscal year 2016-2017. Table 3 demonstrates the variation over the past five years in the number of applications received by the Board.

Table 3. Number of Nuisance and By-law Cases between 2011-2016
Fiscal Year
Nuisance Applications
By-law Applications
Total
2015-2016
5
7
12
2014-2015
2
3
5
2013-2014
1
4
5
2012-2013
2
3
5
2011-2012
4
0
4

2012-05 Macpherson v. County of Huron

Issue: By-law - Tree-cutting
This case carried over from the previous fiscal year. A farmer sought relief from the Board from a tree-cutting by-law in the County of Huron.
Status: Open, in Progress

2014-05 Cox v Town of Mono

Issue: By-law - Site Alteration
A farmer complained that a municipal site alteration by-law was restricting what he considered to be his normal farm practice of bringing soil onto his farm to improve his agricultural operation. The municipality and local residents questioned the large quantity and the quality of the soil he intended to bring.
Status: Closed, the Board concluded the applicant's proposal was not a normal farm practice.

2015-01 Sneig v. Town of New Tecumseth

Issue: By-law - Site Alteration
A farmer complained that a municipal site alteration by-law was restricting what he considered to be his normal farm practice of bringing soil onto his farm to establish an apple orchard.
Status: Open, in Progress.

2015-02 Dell et al. v Zeifman Partners Inc.

Issue: Nuisance - Anaerobic Digester
Multiple residents have complained regarding odour, noise, flies, dust, smoke and vibrations from the use of an anaerobic digester and waste disposal from the Zeifman Partners Inc. operation.
Status: Open, in Progress.

2015-03 Smith v. Smith

Issue: Nuisance - Bird Banger
Multiple residents have complained regarding noise caused by use of a bird banger to deter birds from sweet corn.
Status: Open, in Progress

2015-04 Reid v. Town of Puslinch

Issue: By-law - Site Alteration
The applicant complained that the site alteration by-law prohibiting a new training facility construction is restricting normal farm practices carried on as part of his horse farming operations.
Status: Open, in Progress.

2015-05 Slade v. City of Pickering

Issue: By-law - Site Alteration, Tree Removal
The applicant complained that both a site alteration and a tree protection by-law restricted his ability to establish a tree nursery operation.
Status: Open, in Progress.

2015-06 Leith v. Township of West Lincoln

Issue: By-law - Zoning and Site Alteration
The farmer claimed that the zoning by-law prohibits him from processing or selling any agricultural commodity not grown on his site, and the site alteration by-law bans him from creating a wetland restoration and creating a pond for the production of fish. The applicant asserts that the by-laws are restricting normal farming practices.
Status: Closed, withdrawn.

2015-07 MacGregor v. Grand Bend Produce

Issue: Nuisance - Harvest Equipment
A resident complained about harvesting equipment running during day and night and causing excessive noise, dust, light and vibration nuisances.
Status: Open, in Progress.

2015-08 Maieron v. Townof Erin

Issue: By-law - Regulating the setting of fires
The farmer has complained that the by-law restricts his ability to use a fire pit to burn tree debris and stumps from the woodlot on the property.
Status: Open, in Progress.

2015-09 Robko Farms Ltd. v. County of Oxford

Issue: By-law - Wood Land Conservation
The applicant complained that a wood land conservation by-law is restricting him from clearing weeds and cleaning brush on his property and restricting his normal farm practice.
Status: Open, in Progress.

2016-01 Meijaard v. County of Norfolk

Issue: By-law - Wood Land Conservation
The farmer complained that a wood land conservation by-law is restricting normal farm practices related to field maintenance and other farming operations.
Status: Open, in Progress

2016-02 Tucker v. John and Janice Belanger (Five Oaks Farm)

Issue: Nuisance
A resident complained that the farming operations are causing insect, odour and dust problems on his property.
Status: Open, in Progress.

2016-03 Shedden v. Lunshof and Sons

Issue: Nuisance - Grain Dryer
A resident complained that a grain dryer is causing excessive noise and causing a disturbance.
Status: Open, in Progress.

Assistance to Clients

The Board tries to make it easier for farmers and residents to attend hearings:

  • It holds the hearing in the municipality where the complaint originates.
  • There is no charge for applying for, or participating in, a hearing.
  • Legal counsel is not required, but parties may, if they wish, retain legal counsel at their own expense.

To help parties who do not have legal counsel, the Board developed a Citizen's Guide to the FFPPA and the NFPPB in 2005. The guide explains:

  • the purpose of the Act
  • the role of the Board
  • the concept of "normal farm practice"
  • Board procedures
  • the hearing process.

OMAFRA has also published three brochures to give residents and farmers a brief overview of the Act and the Board.

  • So... You're moving to the Country - informs new residents what to expect when moving into agricultural areas.
  • Preparing for a Normal Farm Practices Protection Board hearing - presents factors to be considered in preparing for a hearing.
  • The Hearing Procedure - Normal Farm Practices Protection Board - gives a brief overview of the hearing process.

In addition to the Citizen's Guide, the Board has also published its Rules of Practice and Procedure. Parties refer to this document to help them prepare for Board hearings. The Citizen's Guide, Rules of Practice and Procedure and other information on the Act and the Board are available online. Copies are also available from the Agricultural Information Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300.

Summaries of all Board decisions can be found on the website. Copies of full Board decisions are available electronically and in print from the Agricultural Information Contact Centre, from Board offices and from CanLII.

Board Governance

Board members have been informed of the Agency and Appointments Directive (AAD) and its requirements. In accordance with the Adjudicative Tribunals Accountability, Governance and Appointments Act, 2009 (ATAGAA), the Board has published online its governance documents: memorandum of understanding, and business plan. The Board's five Accountability Documents are also published online: Mandate and Mission Statement; Consultation Policy; Service Standard Policy; Ethics Plan; and Member Accountability Framework. These documents are described below. The Member Accountability Framework includes position descriptions for the Chair, Vice-Chair and members, and a Code of Conduct.

Mandate and Mission Statement

  1. The mandate of the Board is established by the Act. Section 3 establishes the Board and provides for the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs to appoint the Chair, Vice-Chair and members. Subsection 4(2) states that the Board has the power to:
    1. inquire into and to resolve disputes respecting agricultural operations and to determine what constitutes a normal farm practice;
    2. make necessary inquiries and orders to ensure compliance with its decisions.
  2. The Board's mission statement is to provide a fair hearing and decision process to all parties involved in disputes regarding normal farm practices.
  3. The operation of the Board is subject to the Act, Statutory Powers Procedure Act, the Management Board of Cabinet Agency Establishment and Accountability Directive and Government Appointees Directive, and other applicable Directives of Management Board of Cabinet and Treasury Board.

Consultation Policy

When considering substantive changes to its rules or policies, the Board will consult with persons or entities or groups of persons or entities (parties) whose interests may be affected by those changes, where, in the opinion of the Board Chair, it would be appropriate to do so.

When consulting with stakeholders on such matters, the Board will do so in a manner that allows the Board to receive feedback from those engaged before changes are finalized. Consultation periods will vary according to the complexity of the matters under discussion and the range of parties involved. The minimum consultation period will be 30 days, beginning the date the matter is communicated to the stakeholders.

Service Standard Policy

The Board is a quasi-judicial adjudicative board committed to providing a fair hearing and decision process to all parties involved in disputes regarding normal farm practices. The Board operates within the context of a professional and accountable public service, and is committed to providing a high standard of service to the public.

From time to time, the Board may receive complaints about the quality of service related to its practices, or the conduct of Board members or staff. This policy outlines the Board's service standards for communication between the Board and the public, and informs the public about the Board's process for responding to complaints.

The Board's public complaints policy can be found in Appendix A.

Ethics Plan

The Board will ensure that members are familiar with the requirements of the Public Service of Ontario Act (PSOA) by:

  1. Upon appointment, providing each member with a membership binder which includes,
    1. a copy of the relevant provisions of the PSOA and its conflict of interest regulation, O.Reg. 381/07
    2. Conflict of Interest Commissioner guideline documents pertaining to ethical conduct, including conflict of interest rules and political activity rights and restrictions, and
    3. the website link for the Conflict of Interest Commissioner.
  2. Having the Chair of the Board review with each new appointee their obligations under the PSOA with respect to ethical conduct, conflict of interest rules and political activity rights, and review the role of the Chair as the Ethics Executive for appointees to the Board, as soon as is practical.
  3. Providing each member with notice of any amendments to the relevant legislative provisions respecting their responsibilities under the PSOA as soon as is practical.
  4. Providing an annual notice to members containing information about the requirements of Parts IV and V of the PSOA.

Code of Conduct

The Board will ensure that members are familiar with the Board's Code of Conduct by:

  1. Upon appointment, providing each member with a membership binder which contains the Board's Code of Conduct.
  2. Reviewing the Code of Conduct with new appointees during their orientation session, as soon as is practical.
  3. Notifying each member of any amendments to the Code of Conduct as soon as practical.
  4. Providing a copy of the Code of Conduct to members by March 31 of each year.

Membership Accounatability Framework

The Board's Member Accountability Framework consists of:

  • Position Description of the Chair, including qualifications
  • Position Description of the Vice-Chair, including qualifications
  • Position Description of the Members, including qualifications
  • The Code of Conduct for the Normal Farm Practices Protection Board.

The Code of Conduct is attached in Appendix B.

The Board complies with other governance requirements of the ATAGAA and applicable directives of Management Board of Cabinet/Treasury Board. These include risk identification, assessment and mitigation strategies and reports, and the Board's Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which addresses its relationship with the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. The Board also complies with the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001, the Communications in French Directive, and the Travel, Meal and Hospitality Expenses Directive.

Operational Performance

Performance Measures

The Board measures the performance of its programs in four areas:

  1. The performance of the conflict resolution system in reducing the number of Board cases that arise from complaints about nuisances related to farm practices and by-laws. If the conflict resolution system were not in effect, all complaints about normal farm practices would become Board hearings.
  2. Speed of response regarding Acceptance or Rejection of Application for hearing: Number of days between receipt of a hearing application and response to applicant on whether the application is set for a hearing. This is a measure of the length of time a person who applies for a hearing has to wait before they know when the Board will hear their case. The measure begins when the Board receives a complete application; it does not include time taken for the applicant to provide missing information. To assist the applicant, the Board has provided full application forms showing all the required information on the Board's website linked to the OMAFRA website.
  3. Speed of Issue of Board decisions: Number of days between completion of the hearing and release of the decision. This is a measure of the length of time the parties have to wait for the Board's decision after the hearing has ended.
  4. Quality of Service: The Board is committed to the following values and operating principles:
    1. Respect and consideration for participants;
    2. Quality of hearing process information provided to participants;
    3. Fairness in the processing of applications;
    4. Consideration of participants in the selection of the hearing date;
    5. Convenience to participants of the hearing location;
    6. Appropriateness of the hearing room set-up;
    7. Fairness in conducting a hearing;
    8. Adequate opportunity for participants to present evidence;
    9. Adequate opportunity for participants to respond to the evidence of the opposing party;
    10. Satisfaction that the decision reflected the evidence presented at the hearing;
    11. Clarity and completeness of the reasons why the Board reached its decision, as presented in the written decision;
    12. Timing of the release of the decision;
    13. The plain language used in the decision; and
    14. Absence of bias.

Performance Results

Following are the results of the Board's performance measures:

  1. Conflict Resolution System: The performance of the conflict resolution system in reducing the number of Board cases that arise from complaints related to farm practices. The goal is that a minimum of 80 percent of complaints should be resolved by the conflict resolution system.
    • Results: In 2015-2016 there were a total of 107 farm practice complaints received. Of these, 95 were resolved by the Conflict Resolution Process required by the Board, so that only 12 became Board cases; Performance Result: 89 percent.
  2. Speed of Acceptance: Board response regarding acceptance or rejection of application for hearing: On receipt of a complete application for a hearing, the Board will issue a decision on whether the case is accepted for hearing within 20 calendar days.
    • Results: The Board administered nine hearings in fiscal year 2015-2016. The performance standards and results are shown in Table 4. The Board met its performance objective of 20 days or less for all but one of the twelve new applications it received in 2015-2016. In this instance, the application involved a complex issue. In addition, the applicants of this particular application had previously applied and withdrew their application to the Board in the previous fiscal year. The review of the application required 21 days before acceptance by the Board.
  3. Speed of Decision: Following completion of a hearing, the Board endeavors to release its written decision, with reasons, to the parties according to the following schedule:
    1. Hearing lasting less than 5 days: decision released within 60 business days
    2. Hearing lasting 5 to 20 days: decision released within 90 business days
    3. Hearing lasting more than 20 days: decision released within 120 business days.
    • Results: The Board administered fourteen cases in fiscal year 2015-2016. The performance standards and results are shown in Table 4. The Board met its performance standards in every case it administered.
  4. Quality of Service: Incidence of complaints from parties about any aspect of the quality of the Board's service to them. The goal that there should be fewer than 3 complaints about quality of service for the year.
    • Results: There were no complaints regarding quality of the Board's service during the fiscal year.
Table 4. Board Performace - Service Standards 2015-2016
Case # Name Application Date (Complete) Acceptance Date No. of calendar days for acceptance Standard in calendar days
2015-01 Sneig v. Town of New Tecumseth April 10, 2015 April 23, 2015 13 20
2015-02 Dell et. al v. Zeifman Partners May 8, 2015 May 29, 2015 21 20
2015-03 Smith et. al v. Smith July 13, 2015 July 23, 2015 10 20
2015-04 Reid v. Town of Puslinch July 27, 2015 July 27, 2015 1 20
2015-05 Slade v. City of Pickering July 27, 2015 Aug. 13, 2015 17 20
2015-06 Leith v. Town of West Lincoln August 19, 2015 Aug. 24, 2015 3 20
2015-07 McGregor v. Grand Bend Produce Sept. 2, 2015 Sept. 8, 2015 6 20
2015-08 Maieron v. Town of Erin Sept. 14, 2015 Sept. 28, 2015 14 20
2015-09 Robko Farms v. County of Oxford Nov. 10, 2015 Nov. 13, 2015 3 20
2016-01 Meijaard v. County of Norfolk Feb. 11, 2016 Feb. 17, 2016 6 20
2016-02 Tucker v. John and Janice Belanger Feb. 23, 2016 Mar. 7, 2016 9 20
2016-03 Shedden B.G. Lunshof & Sons Ltd. Mar. 8, 2016 Mar. 16, 2016 6 20
2014-05 Cox v. Mono Jan 28, 2015 Feb. 10, 2015 13 20
2012-05 Macpherson v. County of Huron Jan. 9, 2013 Jan. 15, 2013 6 20

 

Table 4. Board Performace - Service Standards 2015-2016 continued...
Case # Name Hearing Date(s) Decision Date No. of Business days for decision Standard in business days Status
2015-01 Sneig v. Town of New Tecumseth Dec. 21-23, 2015; March 23-24, 2016 N/A N/A 90 Case complete decision pending
2015-02 Dell et. al v. Zeifman Partners Dec. 3, 4, 8-11, 2015; Jan. 12-15, 21-22; April 13-015; June 21-23; July 5-8, 2016 N/A N/A 120 Case in progress
2015-03 Smith et. al v. Smith March 29-30; November 21-24, 2016 N/A N/A 20 Case in progress
2015-04 Reid v. Town of Puslinch TBD N/A N/A TBD Pending 2nd PHC scheduled for 2016-2017
2015-05 Slade v. City of Pickering TBD N/A N/A TBD Pending 2nd PHC scheduled for 2016-2017
2015-06 Leith v. Town of West Lincoln N/A N/A N/A N/A Application Withdrawn
2015-07 McGregor v. Grand Bend Produce June 13-16, 2015 N/A N/A 60 Case in progress
2015-08 Maieron v. Town of Erin TBD N/A N/A TBD Adjourned until Januay 31, 2017
2015-09 Robko Farms v. County of Oxford TBD N/A N/A TBD Pending 2nd PHC scheduled for 2016-2017
2016-01 Meijaard v. County of Norfolk TBD N/A N/A TBD Pending PHC scheduled for 2016-2017
2016-02 Tucker v. John and Janice Belanger TBD N/A N/A TBD Pending PHC scheduled for 2016-2017
2016-03 Shedden B.G. Lunshof & Sons Ltd. TBD N/A N/A TBD Pending PHC scheduled for 2016-2017
2014-05 Cox v. Mono Nov. 23-27, 2015 Feb. 22, 2016 61 90 Completed
2012-05 Macpherson v. County of Huron Feb. 29-Mar. 4; Sept. 12-16, 2016 N/A N/A 90 Case in progress

Note: PHC - Prehearing Conference, TBD - To be determined; N/A - Not applicable.

Financial Performace

The Board is funded by the ministry under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and the Chair of the Board. The MOU sets out the relationship between the Board and OMAFRA, to enable the Board to operate "at arm's length" from OMAFRA. The "arm's length" relationship is vital to ensure that OMAFRA does not have any influence on the decisions of the Board regarding cases that come before it.

The Board does not have a separate funding allocation, though a specific cost centre was assigned. Board expenditures were covered by the Innovation, Engineering and Program Delivery (IEPD) Unit of OMAFRA's Environmental Management Branch. The Unit provides staff, office facilities and supplies, and covers Board operating expenses. Board expenditures are approved by the Chair and are reported in this Annual Report. The cost of staff, office facilities and supplies are covered in OMAFRA's Business Plan.

Table 5. NFPPB Expenditures 2015-2016
  2014-2015 2015-2016 Budget Variances Explanation of Variances
Board Member Per Diems $41,903

$80,392

$49,000 $(31,392) Additional staff training and record number of applications received in 2015-2016. Hearings lasted longer than initially projected due to an increase in complexity of the cases.
Travel Expenses $7,927 $18,642 $8,000 $(10,642) Record number of applications received in 2015-2016. Hearings lasted longer than initially projected due to an increase in complexity of the cases.
Translation Services (Decision Summaries) $5,026 $1,811 $5,000 $3,189 Board rendered one decision in 2015-2016
Publication ("Citizen's Guide") $0 $0 $0 $0  
Court Reporters $2,297 $5,781 $3,000 $(2,781) Increased number of hearing dates
Miscellaneous $2,465 $8,653 $2,000.00 $(6,653) Required security services for two cases
Total $ 59,607 $ 118,280 $67,000 $ (48,279)  

Total operating expenditure for the 2015-2016 fiscal year was $115,280 (compared to $59,607 in 2014-15) (refer to Table 5). The expenditure exceeded the budget of $67,000 by 72 percent. This variation reflects the unprecedented increase in applications, the challenges of accurately predicting the incidence of the different types of hearing events the Board may have to conduct (pre-hearings, motion hearings, and full hearings), and the degree of complexity of the cases.

Board Appointees

Under the Act, the Board consists of at least five members appointed by the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Members are appointed through the Public Appointments Secretariat, according to the requirements of the ATAGAA. The Board invites candidates from across the province, with various backgrounds and expertise in agriculture and municipal affairs, to apply for membership through the Public Appointments Secretariat website at http://www.pas.gov.on.ca/scripts/en/home.asp.

The Board began the fiscal year with nine members and ended it with eight in March 2016. The term of Vice-Chair Anthony Little ended on April 14, 2015. The new Vice-Chair Glenn Walker was appointed May 11, 2015. Board members Dwayne Acres and Hélène Blanchard terms were completed on July 15, 2015, and new members Robert Brander and Jane Sadler Richards were appointed on October 26th, 2015.

Table 6. Board Members 2015-2016
Name Address Occupation Original Appointment Appointment Expiry Date
Kirk W. Walstedt, Chair Maidstone lawyer June 1, 2013 June 30, 2017
Glenn Walker, Vice-Chair Ridgetown lawyer May 11, 2015 May 10, 2017
Robert Brander Caledon Beef and cash crop farmer Oct. 26, 2015 Oct. 25, 2017
Jane Sadler Richards Aisla Craig Scientist and cash crop farmer Oct. 26, 2015 Oct. 25, 2017
Marty Byl Niagara-on-the-Lake grape grower July 17, 2007 July 16, 2016
Douglas Eadie Kincardine cash crop farmer Apr 15, 2011 Apr 14, 2019
Tom Field Glencoe dairy, beef, sheep, cash crop farmer Feb 27, 2009 Feb 26, 2019

 

Acknowledgements

On behalf of the members of the Normal Farm Practices Protection Board, I wish to thank the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs for the services provided to the Board according to the Memorandum of Understanding, and for facilitating the smooth and effective operation of the Board.

Submitted this 25th day of November, 2016.

Kirk W. Walstedt, Chair
Normal Farm Practices Protection Board

Appendix A: Normal Farm Practices Protection Board Public Complaints Policy

Introduction

The Normal Farm Practices Protection Board (Board) is committed to providing quality service to the public.

  • The Board is open and honest in its behaviour, responsive to change, and committed to continuous self-improvement and integrity.
  • The Board will make every reasonable effort to resolve an issue in a fair, consistent manner and is committed to effective relationships with the general public, clients and other staff within and across ministries, and with elected officials.

From time to time, the Board may receive complaints about the quality of service related to Board policies and procedures, the application of those policies and procedures or the conduct of the Board members and staff. The purpose of this policy is to create a transparent and fair method of responding to public complaints.

Important Points about the Policy

  • Dissatisfaction with the outcome of a decision is not a complaint. Such an issue cannot be resolved by the Board directly. The complaint procedure is not another form of reconsideration, appeal or judicial review. If your complaint would best be resolved through a reconsideration, appeal or judicial review, the Board Secretary will advise you of the appropriate procedure.
  • As part of the Board's commitment to service quality, the Board will accept complaints from the public about quality of the Board's service. Persons who can make a complaint include a party to a Hearing; a party's representative, friend or family member; a witness; or any member of the public who has dealt with the Board.
  • Where possible, complaints will be addressed immediately. However, some complaints may require more effort to address. The Board Secretary will acknowledge verbal or telephone complaints within two business days, and complaints received by mail, email, fax or diskette within 15 business days.
  • If the complaint cannot be resolved immediately, the acknowledgement will indicate when it will be resolved, within a 30-day limit.
  • The Board will respond to your complaint and make every reasonable effort to resolve it in a fair and consistent manner.
  • This policy does not affect your right to raise your concerns with the Ombudsman of Ontario if you are dissatisfied with the responses provided by the Board.

Board Complaints Procedure

Confidentiality: Complaints are kept strictly confidential. However, for a thorough and fair review, the Board must advise the person who is the subject of the complaint.

Making a Complaint about Agency Policies and Procedures

  • Take your complaint to the Board Secretary. If the Secretary cannot resolve it, the Secretary will take it to the Chair. The Secretary's contact information is shown below.

Making a Complaint about the Secretary

  • You can raise a complaint about the Secretary directly with the Secretary. If you do not receive a satisfactory response, you can refer the complaint to the Manager at Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) (contact information below). You can also bypass the Secretary and take the complaint directly to the Manager.

Making a Complaint about a Board Member (other than the Chair

  • If you have a complaint about the conduct of a Board member while the Hearing is in process, take it to the Board Secretary. Except in unusual circumstances, the Chair may defer the review in order to maintain the integrity and impartiality of the Hearing process. The Chair will provide an initial response within 15 days. The Chair will advise the Board member, conduct a review and fully respond to the complaint as soon as, in the Chair's opinion, it is appropriate to do so.
  • If your complaint about the Board member occurs after the Hearing is finished, or if the Board member is not involved in the Hearing, the chair will respond within 15 days.
  • The review of the complaint by the Chair will take the form of hearing by written submissions. Your complaint should be fully explained in writing (written submission). Your submission will be issued to the Board member, who will be required to submit a written response within ten working days. Your submission will also be issued to any witnesses identified in your submission, and they too will be required to submit a written statement within ten working days. All responses will be forwarded to you, so that you can, if you wish, respond to them as appropriate. You must submit your response document within ten working days. The Chair will then consider all documents submitted and issue a written decision, with reasons, within 20 working days of receiving all written submissions.

Making a Complaint about the Board Chair

The Minister or Minister's delegate is the most appropriate choice for reviewing complaints against the Board Chair. You can submit the complaint in writing, or in other forms as appropriate for persons with disabilities, either through the Board Secretary or directly to the Manager. The review may be conducted by the Minister or his or her delegate.

Contact Names

The Secretary
Normal Farm Practices Protection Board
1 Stone Road West, 2nd Floor
Guelph, ON N1G 4Y2

The Manager,
Director Business Services Branch, OMAFRA
1 Stone Road West, 2nd Floor
Guelph, ON N1G 4Y2

Ombudsman Ontario
125 Queen's Park
Toronto, ON M53 2C7
General Inquiry Client Access Centre
(416) 586-3300 or 1-800-263-1830

Appendix B: Members' Code of Conduct

Purpose of the Code

This Code of Conduct sets out the standards of conduct governing the professional and ethical responsibilities of members of the Normal Farm Practices Protection Board from the beginning of their term of appointment and ongoing obligations as an appointee. It addresses the principles of good conduct and collegial responsibility. Appointees are responsible for applying an appropriate standard of conduct and acting in an ethical and professional manner.

The principles set out in this code are founded on the professional and ethical values of public service, which are set to uphold the public trust.

This Code of Conduct does not refer to appointees' legislated obligations regarding a conflict of interest or political activity rights and obligations. Please refer to the Public Service of Ontario Act, 2006 and its regulations. Also, it is not intended to conflict with any legal or professional requirements.

Principles of Conduct

Compliance with Laws
    1. Members shall act in accordance with all applicable laws and should comply with the spirit and intent of the law.
    2. Members shall not commit or condone an unethical or illegal act or invoke another to do so.
    3. Members should be familiar with legislation, policies and directives that apply to their work and the work of the Board in order to comply with or facilitate others' compliance with applicable laws.

Fairness/Courtesy

    1. Members have an obligation to comply with procedural fairness and natural justice requirements and to act impartially in the conduct of proceedings, including in matters of law and Member attitude and demeanour.
    2. Members should treat each person with dignity and respect and in a manner that builds trust.

Accessibility

    1. Members should treat those who appear before the Board fairly, without discrimination or favouritism.
    2. Members should be aware and respectful of social and cultural differences. In the course of their duties, they should act in a manner that promotes an appreciation of diversity.
    3. Members must be sensitive to potential barriers to accessibility.
    4. Members should conduct hearings or reviews such that those who appear before the Board understand the procedures and practices and can participate equally, whether or not they are represented.

Timeliness

    1. Members should take all reasonable steps to ensure that proceedings are concluded in a timely manner, avoiding unnecessary delays and cancellations of proceedings.
    2. Parties are entitled to a decision as soon as possible after the proceeding.
    3. Members should meet the timeliness standards established by the Board.

Quality and Consistency

    1. Members should be fully prepared for a proceeding and ensure that proceedings are orderly.
    2. Members should maintain the integrity of the hearing or review process.
    3. Members should ensure that decisions are prepared in accordance with the Board's guidelines on form and language, and meet the Board's standards for quality decision-making.
    4. Members should recognize the public interest through consistency and predictability in the exercise of their independent decision-making authority by considering relevant facts and evidence as well as law and jurisprudence.

Transparency

    1. Members should ensure that proceedings are conducted in a manner that is transparent and seen to be fair.
    2. Members should act in a transparent and accountable manner regarding their personal and professional actions, in such a fashion that actions would bear close public scrutiny.

Expertise/ Competence

    1. Members should commit the time and effort required for the work of the Board.
    2. Members should maintain the high level of professional competence and knowledge required to discharge their obligations and duties.
    3. Members should remain current in the field by participating in Board discussions and ongoing professional development.
    4. Members should contribute their unique skills, experience and knowledge to the Board.

Optimum Cost

    1. Where appropriate, members should provide parties with opportunities to resolve issues before them without a formal hearing.
    2. Members should ensure that proceedings are streamlined to the best extent possible without sacrificing fairness.
    3. Memebrs should respect the use and treatment of public funds.

Integrity

    1. Members should act with honesty, integrity and high ethical standards.
    2. Members shall not engage in conduct that exploits their position as a member.
    3. Members should conduct themselves personally and professionally in a manner consistent with the nature of their responsibilities and the maintenance of public confidence in the administration of justice.

Collegiality

    1. Members should foster a collegial working environment and conduct themselves in a manner that reinforces the integrity and professionalism of the Board among appointees and with staff.
    2. Members should conduct themselves in a manner that demonstrates respect for the views and opinions of colleagues.
    3. Members should share their knowledge and expertise with other appointees as requested and appropriate.
    4. Members should not comment publicly on another member's decision or conduct.

Objectivity/ Impartiality

    1. Members should approach every proceeding and every issue arising in a proceeding with an open mind, and avoid doing or saying anything to cause any person to think otherwise.
    2. Members should be independent in decision-making.
    3. In the conduct of Board proceedings, members' decisions should be based on an application of the relevant law to the evidence presented in each case.

Confidentiality

    1. Members shall consider the privacy interests of individuals in the conduct of hearings and decisions, and act in accordance with applicable laws.
    2. Members must not disclose information that the Board considers to be confidential.
    3. Members must not take advantage of confidential information obtained through official duties to obtain a personal benefit.
    4. Members should follow Board protocols for communicating in the media and should not communicate with the media regarding a decision.

Acknowledgement

    1. Each member must adhere to this Code of Conduct and commit to supporting the standards set out in applicable legislation, policies or guidelines.
    2. Members should review and reaffirm their commitment to and compliance with the Board's Code of Conduct upon initial appointment and on a regular basis thereafter.

For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: Kirk W. Walstedt, Chair
Creation Date: 13 February 2017
Last Reviewed: 13 February 2017