Minimum Distance Separation (MDS) Formulae


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Minimum Distance Separation (MDS)

The Minimum Distance Separation (MDS) Formulae is a land use planning tool that determines a recommended separation distance between a livestock barn or manure storage and another land use. The objective of MDS is to prevent land use conflicts and minimize nuisance complaints from odour.

MDS does not account for other nuisances such as noise or dust. MDS is made up of two separate, but related formulae (MDS I and MDS II).

MDS I – provides the minimum distance separation between proposed new development and existing livestock facilities and/or permanent manure storages located in areas where the keeping of livestock is permitted.

MDS II – provides the minimum distance separation between proposed new, enlarged or remodelled livestock facilities and/or permanent manure storages and existing or approved development located in areas where the keeping of livestock is permitted.

In Ontario's rural and prime agricultural areas, the 2005 Provincial Policy Statement requires that new land uses, including the creation of lots and new or expanding livestock facilities, comply with the MDS Formulae. MDS is to be included in municipal planning documents such as zoning by-laws and official plans. Before a land use planning approval can be given, or a building permit can be issued, conformity to MDS setbacks must be demonstrated.

The separation distances vary based on livestock type, size of farm operation, type of manure system, tillable hectares, and form of land use development present or proposed. MDS is calculated based on factors and formulas provided by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). Computer software is available from OMAFRA to assist with the calculation of MDS setbacks.

Role of Municipalities

Generally, municipalities are responsible for ensuring that MDS setbacks are met when reviewing land use planning applications (e.g. lot creation applications) or building permits. If you are proposing to construct a new livestock facility or other building, or you are pursuing a land use planning application, such as an official plan amendment, zoning by-law amendment, or an application to create a new lot, you should contact your local municipality for questions regarding the implementation of the MDS Formulae in your area.

While municipalities are responsible for ensuring that the requirements of the MDS Formulae are met when reviewing land use planning applications or building permits, municipalities may implement this requirement in different ways. Some municipalities will ask an applicant to provide the information necessary for the municipality to complete the calculation of MDS. In other cases, a municipality may request that an applicant provide a calculated MDS setback for their review. In this instance, it may be advantageous for an applicant to engage the services of a land use planning consultant or a nutrient management consultant to undertake the MDS calculation.

MDS Formulae History, Key Elements and Changes

The section pages MDS Formulae History, Key Elements and Important Changes describes some of the background and history of the MDS Formulae, key elements of the MDS Formulae, and highlights key changes to the MDS Formulae implemented on January 1, 2007.

Minimum Distance Separation Formulae – Publication 707

Publication 707 – Minimum Distance Separation Formulae contains information on MDS definitions, formulas, factors, implementation guidelines and calculation forms. If you order a copy of Publication 707, you will also receive the MDS Formulae software. Information on how to order Publication 707 can be found in the section MDS Formulae – Publication 707 – Ordering Information. Publication 707 can be viewed online in the section - Minimum Distance Separation Formulae – Publication 707.

If you have previously ordered Publication 707 and have an older version of the MDS Formulae software, (Versions 1.0.0 or 1.0.1), information on upgrading to version 1.0.2 can be found in the section Updating MDS Software. It should be noted that all versions of the MDS Formulae software produced since 2006 calculate MDS setbacks correctly. Newer versions of the MDS software, address user issues related to network administrative rights and use of Vista operating systems.

Training Presentation and Manual for Minimum Distance Separation Formulae

To assist municipalities to implement the MDS Formulae on January 1, 2007, OMAFRA undertook a number of training sessions across the Province in Fall 2006. Copies of the presentation and training materials used by OMAFRA staff at these sessions can be found in the following sections – Training Presentation and Training Manual for Minimum Distance Separation Formulae. If you work for a municipality (e.g. land use planner, building official) or a land use planning or nutrient management consulting firm and are interested in additional training opportunities related to the MDS Formulae, please contact an OMAFRA Rural Planner on the Staff in Agricultural Land Use Planning page.

 


For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 22 January 2008
Last Reviewed: 18 August 2009