About the Project
Farmland is an indispensable, non-renewable resource. However, the continued loss and alienation of farmland, especially prime farmland in the most productive agricultural areas in the country, is a critical concern.
The purpose of the research program is to assess the state of farmland protection through agricultural land use planning (AgLUP) in Canada. The main goal of the research program is to provide the first comprehensive, nation-wide assessment of the state of farmland protection in Canada.
The results will be of benefit to land use decision makers, planning practitioners, and policy-makers at all levels of government, to non-governmental organisations, industry groups, farmer organisations, farmers, and the general public, as well as to other jurisdictions around the world.
One objective of the research program is to improve our understanding of the levels of influence of municipal, regional, and provincial governments in AgLUP. Although land use planning is a provincial responsibility with most powers delegated to local governments, all levels of government affect land use policy, which raises questions about the required level of integration of public priorities across jurisdictions. In turn, integration relates to broader questions about the role and influence each level of government should have over AgLUP – including the role of the federal government in protecting Canada’s farmland as a national interest.
The early results of our research program reveal significant differences among provinces and among municipalities within provinces. Less than 10% of Canada’s best agricultural land is well protected, which leaves much of Canada’s best farmland highly exposed to non-farm development.
Plan quality: method of evaluation
Policy brief Farmland 2016
Note de politique Les terres agricole 2016
FARMLAND PROTECTION: Strengthening BC’s Legislation
This fragmented policy base also undermines the aims and goals of all agri-food policies and strategies – at all levels of government.
Plan quality: method of evaluation
Much of our work centres on plan quality: the strength of policy focus for protecting farmland through AgLUP. Our methods are premised on evaluating the ‘strength’ of a legislative framework, by which we mean the efficacy of the framework as it is written.
Better Than Good: Three Dimensions of Plan Quality
A legislative framework includes policies, acts, regulations, statutory plans, and zoning bylaws that can encompass multiple jurisdictions. For this purpose, we use the following four principles as criteria to evaluate the strength of a legislative framework: maximize stability; integrate public priorities across jurisdictions; minimize uncertainty; and, after addressing the aforementioned principles, accommodate flexibility without contributing unnecessarily to uncertainty.
The methods we use for evaluating the strength of legislative frameworks are documented in the Assessment Toolkit.
Role of the federal government
Importantly, while most AgLUP research has focused on integrating public interests across jurisdictions at municipal, regional, and provincial levels of government, our project extends the matter of public policy to include national public interests in protecting agricultural lands.
Our objective for this part of the research is to explore and assess potential roles and contributions of the federal government in agricultural land use policy vis-à-vis other levels of government. This goal is supported by identifying possible roles and contributions of the federal government in AgLUP and examining the validity and viability of different scenarios for integrating farmland protection within national agri-food policy.