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Who Puts Farmland at Risk?

Who Puts Farmland at Risk? Everyone… If we take farmland and food for granted

Citizens need to keep an ever watchful eye on farmland and the support farmers require to produce safe, healthy food. Currently, the Municipality of the County of Kings is completing Kings 2050. This process is leading to a new Municipal Planning Strategy. Many changes are being made that impact the protection of agricultural land and the agricultural district.  No Farms No Food volunteers are working hard to fully understand the impact of these changes. A preliminary report has been prepared and submitted to the municipality.

The draft MPS can be accessed here

Proposed changes have been charted on this map

Misguided Municipal Councillors

In early 2010 an independent review said Kings County Council was “pre-occupied” and “dysfunctional”.  It described a council bent by “the agendas of individual councillors and incapable of providing either short or long-term direction for the county.” This council’s pro-development agenda, marched onward but was stopped in large part by the Province of Nova Scotia in 2012. Click here to read the review of council.

The 2012 municipal election brought change to the Kings County Council. Early in its mandate an unanimous vote lead to a letter being sent to the Province of Nova Scotia to ask that the Statement of Interest in Agricultural Land be further strengthened. In 2015 this council is slated to approve a new MPS. No Farms No Food is asking the council to use the revised MPS and its accompanying Land Use Bylaw to further protect our rich soils and agricultural districts.

The Farmer-Developer

For the last several years farmer-developers have continued to bring development applications consistently forward.  The myth they promote to other farmers, and those sympathetic to the economic pressures farmers face, is that protecting agricultural land hurts farmers. They argue farmers have a right to get the best price possible for their land and if that means selling it, or developing it, for non-agricultural uses, that should be permissable.  Some claim too that farmers need to develop their lands for financial survival. This appears to be untrue with regard to the current applicants.  The homes of Greg Coldwell and Earl Kidston (the farmer-developers in Port Williams) are luxurious in style and size and each is located on a large acreage.

Peter Elderkin and Doug Hennigar (two farmer-developers in Greenwich) claimed that current zoning created significant problems for their farm businesses. No Farms No Food promotes the need for land-banking to compensate farmers for land that they no longer wish to farm. However, until a agricultural land trust is up, running and sufficiently robust to compensate farmers, citizens must work to ensure there is no permanent loss of fertile lands to urban sprawl.

In Kings County in 2009, some farmer-developers tried to force through a motion at the Kings County Federation of Agriculture that called for a complete removal of all agricultural zoning. This motion was defeated by a thin margin.

The Silent Majority

Most people favour the protection of farmland.  But, in small tight-knit communities, many people hesitate to stand before their farmer-developer neighbour and publicly say “no.”  Unfortunately, members of a silent, though opposed, majority can collectively place farmland at just as much risk as a few farmer-developers.

A key goal of our membership is to encourage people to take a public stand for farmland.

Write a letter. State your views.