Use of Soil and Canada Land Inventory (CLI) Information for Agricultural Land Use Planning in Ontario

Examples of When the Use of Soil and CLI Information May be Required

Preparing a New Official Plan or Updating an Existing Official Plan that Identifies Prime Agricultural Areas

Municipalities with an official plan are required by the Planning Act to review their official plan at least every five years to, among other things, ensure it is consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement, conforms with applicable provincial plans, and has regard for matters of provincial interests. During this process, municipalities should ensure the policies of their official plan reflect changing local needs and priorities. Resource areas of provincial interest such as prime agricultural areas, natural heritage resources and aggregate resources should be identified upfront so that they can be considered when other planning issues are dealt with (e.g. the need to expand settlement areas).

Policy 2.3.1 of the Provincial Policy Statement defines prime agricultural areas as areas where prime agricultural land predominates (i.e. specialty crop areas and areas with CLI Classes 1 to 3 land and associated Classes 4 to 7 land). Policy 2.3.2 requires planning authorities to designate specialty crop areas; they receive the highest priority for protection in prime agricultural areas. OMAFRA should be consulted on the location of provincial specialty crop areas. There are two approaches for identifying prime agricultural areas beyond specialty crop areas, the first being the Agricultural Land Evaluation System (ALES), and the second being the Land Evaluation and Area Review (LEAR) process. Both methods rely heavily on CLI mapping. More information on these methodologies is available from OMAFRA's Rural Planners.

Seeking an Official Plan Amendment for a Non-Agricultural Use

Policy 2.3.5 of the PPS states that planning authorities may only exclude land from prime agricultural areas for new or expanding settlement areas in accordance with Policy 1.1.3.8 of the PPS. Conversion of prime agricultural area to settlement area may only be considered at the time of comprehensive official plan review, subject to conditions.

Policy 2.3.6 of the PPS contains a provision for non-agricultural uses in prime agricultural areas, specifically mineral aggregate extraction and limited non-residential uses. Non-residential uses are only considered if certain conditions can be met. For instance, need must be demonstrated and alternative locations evaluated outside of identified prime agricultural areas; where this is not possible, alternative sites should be identified on lower priority lands within the prime agricultural area. Lower priority agricultural lands are determined on the basis of CLI and factors such as current land use, amount of capital investment into agricultural infrastructure, amount of land under active cultivation, degree of fragmentation to the surrounding agricultural land base, and proximity to adjacent urban and rural settlement areas. For the purpose of considering alternative sites, the scale of existing CLI mapping is appropriate.

Applying for a Renewable Energy Contract for a Non-Rooftop Solar Facility

Non-rooftop solar projects greater than 10 kilowatts may be ineligible for a renewable energy generation contract if they are proposed to be located in prime agricultural areas or on prime agricultural land. Details are available on Ontario Power Authority's website. In some cases, CLI mapping, designed for regional-scale planning, may need to be completed at a higher resolution (larger scale) for site specific use. The approach for doing so is described on the Ministry of Energy's website.

Undertaking an Environmental Assessment (EA)

The Environmental Assessment Act requires the evaluation of impacts associated with proposed public sector and some large private sector undertakings on the environment (e.g. landfills, roads). The Environmental Assessment Act broadly defines "environment" as including the natural, social, economic, cultural and built environments. Proponents must identify and evaluate alternatives, analyze effects and identify impact mitigation. Consultation with the public, Aboriginal communities and government agencies is mandatory and must also be documented.

The potential impact of a proposed undertaking on prime agricultural areas and how impacts will be managed must be considered during the environmental assessment process.

Further information on Ontario's environmental assessment process can be found on the Ministry of the Environment's website.

Applying for Approval to Operate a Pit or Quarry under the Planning Act and/or the Aggregate Resources Act

As CLI is the primary basis for determining capability for agriculture in Ontario, proponents and approval authorities for pit and quarry applications need to consider CLI information to meet PPS policies 2.3.1 (protection of prime agricultural areas) and 2.5.4.1 (rehabilitation requirements in prime agricultural areas on prime agricultural land). CLI classification is also considered when applying for a license under the Aggregate Resources Act. Further information on the process for pit and quarry applications can be found on the Ministry of Natural Resources' website.


Resources: Classifying Prime and Marginal Agricultural Soils and Landscapes: Guidelines for Application of the Canada Land Inventory in Ontario

Land owners, land use planners, agricultural consultants and engineers, municipal governments and academics can go the Agricultural Information Atlas website to get agricultural information and create maps.


Historical Soil Maps and Reports

County Year Survey Completed ON Report # Scale Last Updated Updated Scale
Blind River-Sault Ste Marie (now Algoma)
50
1:50,000
Brant
1:25,000
Bruce
1:63,360
1975
1:63,360
Dufferin
1:63,360
Dundas
1:63,360
1999
1:50,000
Durham
1:63,360
Elgin
1:126,720
1:50,000
Essex
1:63,360
Fort Frances-Rainy River
51
1:50,000
Frontenac
1:63,360
Glengarry
1:63,360
1999
1:50,000
Grenville
1:63,361
2001
1:50,000
Grey
1:63,360
1981
1:63,360
Haldimand-Norfolk
1:25,000
Halton
1:63,360
Hastings
1:63,360
Huron
1:63,360
Kenora-Dryden- Pointe Du Bois
52
1:50,000
Kent (Chatham)
3
1:126,720
1996
1:50,000
Kent (Chatham) Special Report: Soil Maps of Kent County
1994
Special Report
     
Lambton
1:63,360
Lanark
1:63,360
2000
1:50,000
Leeds
1:63,360
2001
1:50,000
Lennox-Addington
1:63,360
Manitoulin
1:63,360
Middlesex
1:126,720
1:50,000
Niagara
1:25,000
North Bay (now Nipissing)
54
1:50,000
Northumberland
1:42,000
Ottawa-Carleton (Excl. Urban)
1:50,000
Ottawa-Urban Fringe
1:25,000
1999
1:50,000
Oxford
1:63,360
1:50,000
Parry Sound
1:126,720
Peel
1:63,360
Perth
1:63,360
1975
1:63,360
Peterborough
1:63,360
Prescott & Russell
1:63,360
1998
1:50,000
Prince Edward
1:63,360
Renfrew
1:63,361
1990
1:50,000
Simcoe
1:63,360
Stormon
1:63,360
1999
1:50,000
Sudbury
49
1:50,000
Thunder Bay
48
1:50,000
Victoria (now Kawartha Lakes)
1:63,360
Waterloo
1:20,000
1996
1:50,000
Wellington
1:63,360
Wentworth (Hamilton)
1:63,360
York
1:63,360

 


For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 23 May 2013
Last Reviewed: 24 July 2013