By Ella Haley
BRANTFORD – On Jan. 1, 2017 Brantford and Brant County will have completed one of the largest annexations in southern Ontario in recent history, with the approval of Bill Mauro, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
The deal gobbles up approximately 9,000 acres of mostly prime farmland, with Brantford annexing about 6,700 acres and Brantford then extending services to adjacent rural communities to enable another 2,150 acres of mostly farmland available for development.
“The Ontario government is not listening. It is not protecting our precious food resources for a growing population,” said Ella Haley of Sustainable Brant “The decision to allow Brantford sprawl onto farmland, flies in the face of premier’s election campaign in Brant County to make sure farmland is around for future generations.”
Brant County reflects a growing land grab across the country. Brant County suffers from “leapfrog development” pressure, with developers and a land banking company buying up farmland just outside of the Ontario Greenbelt.
The National Farmers Union has been tracking the large scale purchase of farmland by corporations, pension funds and off shore investors, including in Brant County. Emery Huszka, President of the National Farmers Union of Ontario expressed deep concern about the annexation. “If the Ontario government cares that little about agricultural land, it’s a poor demonstration of their feeling of rural communities,” said Huszka.
Walton International, a multinational land banking company with thousands of offshore investors is now the largest owner of prime farmland in Brant County. Walton has bought up approximately 5,000 acres of mostly farmland in Brant County. A close inspection of deeds of farms owned by Walton, including the farm that was owned by Mayor Ron Eddy shows hundreds of offshore investors mainly from Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.
Brant County is unique because of the Six Nations community. Different parties in the Six Nations community feel that Minister Mauro’s approval of the Brantford/Brant boundary deal reflects a failure of Brantford, Brant County and the Ontario government to have “meaningful consultation”.
For example, Wilfred Davey from Hodiskeagehda Men’s Fire (Six Nations) issued a written statement that the Brantford Boundary agreement has “never been discussed with the Men’s Fire or Haudenoshaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council”.
Minister Mauro’s decision ignores:
– the 3,000 petitions to create a Grand River Watershed Greenbelt to protect farmland, natural areas and water resources in Brant County
– the call by residents, farm and environmental groups for no urban boundary expansions
– the recent recommendations of the Crombie report
– the wishes of the majority of Brantford and Brant County residents
– the unanimous call from the Ontario branch of the National Farmers Union, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario, and other farm organizations to “freeze urban boundaries in the Greater Golden Horseshoe”
The Brantford annexation deal does not protect farmland or help feed the growing Ontario population. The deal flies in the face of all recommendations for smart growth and compact communities.
We call for Premier Wynne to protect prime farmland by intervening and placing a moratorium on the Brantford/Brant boundary deal.
For more information please contact Ella Haley from Sustainable Brant at 519-647-0307 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.