Urban development. Competition for land in the rapidly urbanizing areas in the GTA and around existing urban centres is intense. Pressure for residential, industrial, and commercial development is obvious and constant. Less obvious is competition for land for golf courses, aggregate extraction, transportation corridors, service corridors, wetland complexes, and open space facilities. All of these uses result in the loss to agriculture of much larger areas than just those actually being occupied by new development. Inherent conflicts be tween these uses and agriculture negatively impact the ability to farm efficiently.
As an area is urbanized, conflicts arise. Increased traffic, complaints about farm operations and the use of farm machinery, restrictions on when and how farmers can operate, and the closing of agricultural services usually accompany urban forms of development. The character of the community gradually changes from agricultural to urban.
Recreational uses. Introducing recreational activity into an agricultural area can also create conflicts. Trespassing and crop damage occur when the public has access to areas near farms. Lighting from sports facilities can affect operations such as greenhouses. Additional traffic on the roads makes it difficult and dangerous to move agricultural equipment.
Spreading of manure and hours of operation become issues. Spraying of herbicides and pesticides on golf courses or other areas can lead to conflicts. Demands for water by other land uses can have significant impacts on agriculture.
Aggregate extraction. Aggregate resources are protected for long-term use under the PPS. This creates a direct conflict with agricultural land in cases when the aggregates are located under prime land. Although agricultural land is supposed to be rehabilitated once the aggregate is removed, rehabilitation for agriculture is often not feasible. The land is often redeveloped for recreational or residential development, which is easier to accommodate after rehabilitation. While the aggregate operation is functioning, off-site impacts such as dust, noise, traffic and impact on the water table can adversely affect agriculture.
Green space. Environmental issues also need to be balanced. To date, agriculture has been granted special status under Section 2.3.4 of the PPS. However, as environmental controls such as setbacks from water courses, nutrient management, and preservation of wetland complexes, wildlife corridors, and natural heritage features are introduced, restrictions on agriculture are tightened. The policies for the Oak Ridges Moraine and the Niagara Escarpment are obvious examples. Both have imposed restrictions on activities that have traditionally been part of farming. To be successful, farmers need flexibility to respond to changes. As flexibility is lost through tightened regulations and as the required procedures become more complicated, the ability to farm successfully is reduced.
Transportation corridors. Transportation corridors are a mixed blessing. Often the construction of better roads allows more efficient movement of equipment, reduces conflicts with motorists, and allows better access to markets. However, if roads are not designed with the agricultural community in mind, conflicts can increase. Slow-moving equipment conflicts with fast-moving commuter traffic. The type of roads constructed are not conducive to moving agricultural equipment. Transportation corridors may sever properties and result in land going out of production.
Development tends to follow infrastructure, so the future viability of an area for agriculture is put at risk by new corridors and services. As with other development, because of the lack of constraints, the most costeffective development locations are often the best agricultural land. The impact of the Queen Elizabeth Way on the tender fruit lands is an obvious example of the negative impact that a transportation corridor can have on an agricultural resource.