One of the components of the County's Municipal Comprehensive Review (MCR) is a review of the location of the prime agricultural area in the County. Prime agricultural areas are characterized by fertile soils where most of Ontario's crops are produced which support the broader agricultural system.
The Growth Plan further indicates that the responsibility for the mapping of prime agricultural areas rests solely with the Province. Provincial mapping locates a continuous and productive land base comprised of prime agricultural areas, including specialty crop areas and rural lands, as well as a complementary agri-food network that together enable the agri-food sector to thrive. Further information on the work completed by the Province can be accessed through this link.
It is the Province's expectation that their mapping of prime agricultural areas in Simcoe County be implemented in the County Official Plan. Until then, the current mapping showing prime agricultural areas in the County Official Plan continues to apply. However, before the Provincial mapping is implemented, the Province allows for a one-time opportunity to refine the Provincial mapping at the time of a MCR based on implementation procedures issued by the Province. These implementation procedures can be accessedthrough this link.
The Agricultural System Review and Refinement Update will identify the differences between the Provincial mapping and the current mapping of prime agricultural areas included within the Simcoe County Official Plan and local Official Plans. Once the extent of the differences is known, the Consulting Team will conduct an assessment to determine whether changes are required to the Provincial mapping and why. The product of this work will be updated prime agricultural mapping that will be incorporated by a future Official Plan Amendment into the Simcoe County Official Plan.
Included in this Amendment will be updated policies on agricultural uses, agriculture-related uses and on-farm diversified uses as well. Given that the boundaries of prime agricultural areas in an Official Plan can only be modified at the time of the MCR, it is anticipated that there will be interest on the part of landowners and others in this process. Consultation will be a key component of this project and opportunities to review the work completed and ask questions will be identified through this process.