TapRoot Farms / Blog / Agricultural LAND - Everyone's business

Agricultural LAND - Everyone's business

Posted on by Patricia Bishop

For many years I have been personally engaged in speaking up for the protection of agricultural land in Kings County, Nova Scotia. 

It all started for me when land in Greenwich was under treat of rezoning for the purposes of developing cluster housing. The land that we farm in Kings County has been farmed since the Acadians arrived. In my opinion it is priceless and a resource to be greatly valued for what it has the capacity to do,  grow amazing crops. 

My involvement in speaking up for the land led me to running in the municipal elections and I sat as a municipal councillor for 5 and a bit years. The 5 + years I was a councillor, the council of the day,CAO and staff could not get it sorted out to get the municipal planning strategy (MPS) updated. It has been years and years of effort and a continuous struggle. The struggle in my opinion is this: Any good planner realizes the need for prime agricultural land to be protected. Everyone in planning knows that the best way to protect anything is to have strong language of protection written into an excellent municipal planning strategy. Zoning is by far the best way to protect land. BUT, protecting anything is not how people like to roll. People want to be allowed to do what they want, when they want. AND so, we have a conundrum.

The time is here again. Kings County is now moving forward (a good thing) to get new policies in place and they need feedback on the draft policies.

It is time for everyone who eats to engage in this process. It doesn't matter where you live. It doesn't matter if your house was built on farm land. It doesn't matter if you life in Halifax. What matters is what is before us right now, and how we want to see things unfold into the future. We can't take it back, we are where we are, so now what?

Kings County is the hot spot for two important things. One) we have a lot of very good agricultural land here and we have conditions here that are found in only a few places on the planet because of our proximity to the Minas Basin. Two) we have a municipal planning strategy (not all municipalities have one) and everyone is watching what will happen here. If we protect land here, then a message is sent to the province to hurry up and enforce protection of land elsewhere in the province. If we weaken our policies here in Kings County, then it sends a sure message to the province that people don't care much about agricultural land. 

I have not been involved in NF2 for many years. I stepped away when I became a Councillor and I haven't been able to get back involved since my term ended because of two reasons. 1) I get really anxious now when I talk about land policy, I/we/many people worked so hard to bring about good sound options for provincal policy of which the gov't has done basically nothing, lip service and lip service is incredible insulting and 2) it has been full on  busy at the farm.

NF2 is alive and well and reaching out to share the news of the what is going on and what you can do. Please read below. Many thanks in advance. One thing that I know for sure is that each of our voices matter so so much!  Every single comment matters. Every single person in the room matters. Every person who can't be in the room that you speak for, matters.  Please come to the meetings. Please speak up. 

 

IT TAKES LAND TO FARM

 

This simple fact is absent in the proposed Municipal Planning Strategy (MPS) for Kings County. The protections the new MPS provide to farmland are grossly inadequate and flawed.

 

The proposed MPS starts off well. It recognizes the vital importance of farmland: it is necessary to preserve a way of life; it is a crucial engine to the region’s economy; it provides a steady supply of local foods; and it is a key reason why people decide to make their homes here and why so people come to visit.

 

And yet the actual policies setout in the MPS do not provide the protection this vital resource warrants.

 

The MPS’s Settlement vision is to “[c]oncentrate new commercial and residential development, including mixed uses, the Growth Centres . . .” However, with no explanation or justification, the MPS contains a number of exceptions that would allow residential development to take place on farmland.

 

The proposed MPS will allow non-farm dwellings on A1 farmland. Non-farm dwelling could be located on farmland if the lot has a minimum of 1000 feet road frontage and on infill lots. The MPS provides no reasons for these exceptions. Also troubling is the fact that the MPS provides information about the amount might be lost or made useless due to nearby residential development.

 

Without justification, the new MPS has increased the number of designated Grown Centres (GCs) in the County and contains a provision that would allow expansion of GC boundaries. There is no evidence that there are not enough potential building lots in the GCs and the Towns of Berwick, Kentville and Wolfville to accommodate the anemic population growth.

 

Equally questionable is the failure of the MPS to provide any protection to farmland located within GC boundaries. There is no information in the MPS about the amount of farmland in the designated GCs which will be unprotected and could disappear due to residential and commercial development.

 

FUZZY TERMS AND CROSS PURPOSES

 

The portions of the proposed MPS affecting agricultural land are full of contradictory policies and imprecise language.

 

For example, the MPS contains strong support for requiring residential development and other non-agricultural development to take place in Growth Centres where infrastructure and needed amenities are located. Yet one of the Settlement priorities is to "[e]nable and encourage a diversity of housing throughout the region." (Our emphasis.) And more damaging to the cause of protection of farmland and the goal of channeling residential and commercial development to Growth Centres are the numerous polices that will allow non-agricultural development to occur either on agricultural land or near agricultural land which will adversely impact the use of farmland for farming.

 

Here is just one example of sloppy language.

 

Proposed Policy 3.4.1 states that Council shall

 

designate as Agricultural portions of the Valley floor, North Mountain and South Mountain. The Agricultural Designation is intended to encompass the rural parts of the Municipality where agriculture is a dominant land use;

 

In order to make sense of this policy and implement it you need to know the meaning of “portions”, “rural parts” and “dominant”. But these terms are left undefined and imprecise.

 

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

 

To get more information go to NoFarmsNoFood Facebook page at

 

https://www.facebook.com/NF2-No-Farms-No-Food-137602539594998/?fref=ts

or search Facebook for “NF2 nofarmsnofood”

 

Write to the County Mayor and Councillors at: councillors@countyofkings.ca and demand that the MPS contain better protection for farmland.

 

Go to one or more of the County’s 3 public participation meetings and make your voice heard that Kings County needs to do more to protect its farmland.

 

Monday, September 11th, 2017

WATERVILLE FIRE HALL

1415 County Home Road, Cambridge

Open House Format 2 - 4 and 6 - 9

Town Hall Meeting beginning 7:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

 

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

LOUIS MILLET COMMUNITY COMPLEX

9489 Commercial Street, New Minas

Open House Format 2 - 4 and 6 - 9

Town Hall Meeting beginning 7:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

 

 

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

KINGSTON DISTRICT FIRE HALL

570 Sparky Street, Kingston

Open House Format 2 - 4 and 6 - 9

Town Hall Meeting beginning 7:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

 

 

NOFARMSNOFOOD


Leave a Reply

Please login in to post a reply