Greens ready to show leadership in protecting Ontario’s farmland, farmers and greenspace

Markham town councilors have put forth a bold plan to protect their remaining farmland with a permanent Markham Foodbelt. Tonight, residents will have an opportunity to speak at a public planning meeting, where the Foodbelt proposal is expected to be presented to significant support.

The people of Markham are like many across the GTA, worried about development closing in on remaining farmland. During the creation of the Greenbelt, the McGuinty Liberals left open wide tracks of sensitive farmland now known as the “whitebelt”. In Markham, whitebelt land contains most of the remaining farmland. This has led to municipal politicians stepping in to fill the void in provincial leadership.

The people of Markham, like others across Ontario, understand the problems and costs associated with sprawl: traffic congestion, increased pollution, groundwater degradation, and risks to endangered species and food security. The Green Party of Ontario is ready to show leadership in protecting Ontario’s farmland, farmers and greenspace.

The Green Party has a plan to support farmers to earn a decent living in farming. With the need for more young farmers, Greens support transition programs to assist new farmers, pariculary with near urban food production. We also support local food purchasing rules for public institutions, marketing support and infrastrucure investments. The Green Party will fight for smart regulations that support family farms and independent processors, as well as paying farmers for producing enviromental services.

Greens would grow the Greenbelt to include areas of the “whitebelt” that have not yet been developed, while working to expand the Greenbelt, a position advocated by dozens of Ontario organizations and community groups.

And our Party would empower municipalities who show leadership, so they are not left alone in supporting farmers and protecting farmland. Local decision-making is critical to a vibrant democracy. Municipal governments have a friend in the Green Party.

Keeping food sources near our cities is critical to growing a supply of healthy, local food. The GTA has some of the best farmland in Canada. Protecting it and supporting farmers means healthier Ontarians and stronger, more prosperous communities.