Agricultural System for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH)


The Province recognizes the importance of protecting agricultural land, supporting economic viability and managing growth. Recently, the government released updated provincial land use plans which were the result of extensive public consultation.

The updated plans contain new policies on developing an Agricultural System that supports the viability of the agri-food sector and consistently protects farmland across the GGH. OMAFRA is consulting on three Agricultural System products:

  1. Draft Implementation Procedures for the Agricultural System in Ontario's Greater Golden Horseshoe;
  2. Draft Agricultural System Portal;
  3. Draft Agricultural Land Base Map.

This figure shows the Draft Agricultural Land Base mapping for the area of the Greater Golden Horseshoe. Settlement areas are also shown on the map.

The Agricultural System Implementation Procedures will help municipalities make informed land use planning and economic development decisions that implement provincial land use plan policies and strengthen the agri-food sector across the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

Input is welcome from July 6 - October 4, 2017. The Environmental Registry posting (EBR# 013-0968) describes how to provide comments at www.ebr.gov.on.ca.

Comments received during the 90-day period will be considered for the development of the final Agricultural System and mapping, to be released later this year.

While OMAFRA's methodology for mapping the Agricultural Land Base is described in the draft Implementation Procedures document, additional technical detail is provided in the Agricultural System Mapping Method. This is available via email on request to omafra-guidelines@ontario.ca. Please confirm in your email if you prefer a French or English version.

Public Open Houses

Public Open Houses hosted by the province will provide opportunities to learn more and provide input on the proposed Agricultural System (EBR# 013-0968) and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry's Natural Heritage System (EBR# 013-1014).

Three public open houses will be held at the following times and locations. Pre-registration is not required.

FAQs on the Agricultural System

1. What is an Agricultural System?

  • The Province is developing an Agricultural System for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, which aims to identify and protect a continuous, productive land base for agriculture across municipalities, as well as provide support for the agri-food supply chain the sector depends on.
  • The development of an Agricultural System for the Greater Golden Horseshoe is one of the recommendations that came out of the Coordinated Plan Review for the four provincial land use plans.
  • The system is comprised of two components, the agricultural land base and the agri-food network.
  • The agricultural land base consists of prime agricultural areas, including specialty crop areas and rural lands that together create a continuous productive land base. This mapping can be refined when municipalities update their official plans.
  • The agri-food network includes regional infrastructure and transportation networks, on-farm buildings and infrastructure, agricultural services, farm markets, distributors and primary processing, and vibrant, agriculture-supportive communities that are important to the viability of the agri-food sector.

The Agricultural System approach recognizes that land use planning alone cannot address all of the challenges facing agriculture, and that protecting the agricultural land base must be linked to economic development considerations to support the needs of the agri-food sector such as key infrastructure, services and assets (e.g. cold storage facilities, abattoirs, food processors, grain dryers, distribution centres, food hubs/coops).

2. Who is OMAFRA consulting with?

  • OMAFRA will consult with stakeholders in the GGH, including municipalities, Indigenous communities, agricultural organizations, development sectors, and environmental groups.
  • The public will also be able to provide feedback on the Agricultural System guidelines through open houses and the 90 day environmental registry (ER) consultation period. Details on how to provide input are available at the Environmental Registry at www.ebr.gov.on.ca.

3. When will the Agricultural System be released?

  • The province is looking to release the Agricultural System Implementation Procedures, Agricultural System Portal, and Agricultural Land Base map later this year, after the engagement process.

4. How does the Agricultural System tie in with the overall goal to protect farmland in the Greater Golden Horseshoe?

  • The province, municipalities and other stakeholders will collaborate to implement Agricultural System policies, including identifying and protecting a continuous, productive land base for agriculture across municipalities and supporting the agri-food supply chain the sector depends on.
  • The Agricultural System approach is being implemented across the GGH covered by the Growth Plan for the GGH and the Greenbelt Plan.

5. Are there plans to expand the Agricultural System into other areas of the province?

  • At this time, the Agricultural System is being implemented in the GGH. In the future, other areas of the province could adopt a similar approach.

Agricultural System Portal

The Agricultural System Portal shows approximately 30 maps across Ontario's Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH).

The maps show both parts of the Agricultural System:

  • the agricultural land base and
  • the agri-food network

Click to Launch the Agricultural System Portal. Tips on using the Portal are provided below.

The maps in the Portal show agricultural production, land use, infrastructure, agri-food assets and services. These maps can be used to identify agri-food clusters and promote economic growth of the sector.

The Portal enables users to assess and avoid negative impacts from new development on the Agricultural System.

Check the Portal periodically as new information will be added.

To receive an emailed copy of the Agricultural System Mapping Method, which explains how Agricultural System mapping was created, contact omafra-guidelines@ontario.ca. Please confirm in your email if you prefer a French or English version.

Quick Tips for Using the Agricultural System Portal

What is the Agricultural System Portal?

  • The Agricultural System Portal contains about 60 mapping layers from different data sources to illustrate the Agricultural System in the Greater Golden Horseshoe. The Agricultural System Portal shows aspects of both the agricultural land base and the agri-food network the sector depends on.
  • The use of different layers in the portal is explained in the "Implementation Procedures for the Agricultural System in Ontario's Greater Golden Horseshoe."

What information does this portal contain?

  • The portal displays crop production and livestock production densities, plus a wide range of infrastructure such as transportation infrastructure and drainage, as well as services such as meat processors. Agri-food infrastructure and assets are mapped such as grain elevators. The origin of the data for each mapping layer is stated in parentheses in the legend. The main sources of data are: the Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance (GHFFA), Statistics Canada (Census of Agriculture), OMAFRA, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

What can this portal be used for?

  • This Agricultural System Portal is a mapping tool that will make it easy to understand and promote the agri-food sector in your community and across the GGH.
  • Maps in the portal may be used to identify clusters of agri-food activity (e.g. production, processing, distribution) and may feed into economic development studies and strategies to help the sector prosper.
  • Information can be used in Agricultural Impact Assessments that identify how to avoid, minimize and mitigate impacts on the Agricultural System from settlement area expansions, aggregate applications and infrastructure projects.
  • The agricultural land base mapping in the portal is provided for illustrative purposes and to promote integration of land use planning and economic development. Please note that when municipalities update their Official Plan mapping based on the Implementation Procedures, the official provincial Agricultural Land Base map should be used.

How can users of the portal explore the information they are interested in?

  • The Google Chrome internet browser is recommended for viewing the portal.
  • The portal and layers may take several minutes to load so please be patient.
  • The portal contains additional user tips on the left side of the screen.

Is it possible to print maps and legends from the portal?

  • Yes, all map layers and combinations of layers can be printed or saved as a PDF.
  • Legends can be viewed by clicking on the legend button (looks like a bulleted list). A snipping tool can be taken to capture the legend and add it to maps.

How do I obtain data from the portal?

  • Municipalities may obtain detailed asset mapping data from the GHFFA.
  • Some of the data used is open data and specific requests can be made to OMAFRA.
  • Other requests may be made to Statistics Canada and Agriculture and Agri-food Canada

For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 14 June 2017
Last Reviewed: 06 July 2017