Agricultural Impact Assessments

OMAFRA's draft Guidance Document for Agricultural Impact Assessments was posted on the Environmental Registry for public consultation for 120 days from March 15 through to July 13, 2018.

OMAFRA welcomed feedback on the draft guidance document and will carefully consider all input received for the development of a final document, to be released later this year.

The draft Agricultural Impact Assessment Guidance Document supports provincial plan policies (the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2017; the Greenbelt Plan, 2017; the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan, 2017 and the Niagara Escarpment Plan, 2017) that require an agricultural impact assessment be undertaken for certain types of development (these include settlement area boundary expansions, infrastructure projects and mineral aggregate extraction operations within prime agricultural areas).

What is an Agricultural Impact Assessment?

An Agricultural Impact Assessment is defined in the Greenbelt and Growth Plan 2017 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 design, use of buffers, etc.)
  • Addresses site rehabilitation for 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 study.
  • Identifies best practices and resources for mitigating impacts to farmland, farm operations and the Agricultural System.
  • Addresses farmland rehabilitation 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).

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