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Regional Official Plan Explained - Agriculture


The Regional Official Plan protects agricultural land in Halton Region.  Learn more about Halton's planning vision in the Regional Official Plan.

What is the Agricultural System?

The Agricultural System is the area where Halton Region promotes and supports agriculture. It is in place to preserve farmland and to make sure the agricultural industry can be successful.

  • Refer to ROP Section 91 for policies about Agriculture System

Why is the Agriculture in the Regional Official Plan?

Halton Region, like all municipalities in Ontario, is responsible for protecting agricultural land. Preserving agriculture is a key part of Halton’s Planning Vision. Agriculture is an economic driver that contributes to the success of the Region and enhances our quality of life.

Halton Region implements its planning vision through policies in the Regional Official Plan.

What Agricultural policies are in the Regional Official Plan?

The Regional Official Plan (ROP) sets out policies that preserve farmland and the farm community. The policies of the ROP:

  • recognize agriculture as the primary activity and land use in rural areas
  • preserve Prime Agricultural Areas and the farm community
  • protect farms from incompatible uses
  • promote and support the agricultural industry

There are three main components of agricultural policy in the ROP:

  • Agricultural System
  • Agricultural Areas
  • Prime Agricultural Areas
  • Refer to ROP Section 91
  • Refer to ROP Section 99

The Agriculture System

The Agricultural System is the area where Halton Region promotes and supports agriculture. Maintaining the Agricultural System helps to preserve farmland and support the agricultural industry.

The Agricultural System is made up of:

  • the Agricultural Area
  • parts of the Natural Heritage System (NHS)

The Agricultural System and the NHS policies work together to preserve Halton’s countryside and support farming.

Agricultural Area

The Agricultural Area is a land use designation in the Agricultural System. Permitted uses in the Agricultural Area only apply to the Agricultural Area not the entire Agricultural System.

  • Refer to ROP Section 100
  • Map 1 Regional Structure

Natural Heritage System (NHS)

Halton Region supports and promotes agriculture in two parts of the Regional NHS:

  • areas Outside the Key Features
  • parts of the Trafalgar Moraine

The Regional Natural Heritage System is a land use designation in Halton’s Regional Structure. Agricultural uses in the NHS must follow the NHS land use polices in the Regional Official Plan.

  • Learn more about Halton’s Natural Heritage System
  • Refer to ROP Section 114.2
  • Refer to ROP Section 117.1

Prime Agricultural Areas

Prime Agricultural Areas add a layer of information to the Agricultural System. Prime Agricultural Areas include specialty crop areas and lands with the best soil for farming.

The Province identifies prime agricultural areas using a land classification system. Lands in class 1-3 are Prime Agricultural Lands. Only 0.5% of Canada’s land base is prime agricultural land. Most of Canada’s Prime Agricultural Land is in Southern Ontario. The Province requires that all municipalities protect Prime Agricultural Areas for future generations.

Halton Region identified Prime Agricultural Areas and the Agricultural Area using a Land Evaluation & Area Review (LEAR) Study. The LEAR study considers soil quality and other important non-soil factors that support agricultural activity. All soil classifications in Halton’s Agricultural System are important to the success of farming in the Region.

Development in Prime Agricultural Areas is subject to further conditions or restrictions. Prime Agricultural Areas are a constraint to development.

Policy implementation

Halton Region gives broad policy direction about Agricultural land in the Region. The local municipalities in Halton Region must conform to the agricultural policy framework of the Regional Official Plan.

Halton Region implements land use policies through the Regional Official Plan by permitting and restricting uses in certain areas.

Land Use Designations control permitted uses in Halton Region.

In the Agricultural System, Agricultural Area and NHS designations set out the permitted uses.

  • Refer to ROP Section 92

Development in the Agricultural System

Development in the Agricultural System may trigger an Agricultural Impact Assessment (AIA) to determine the impact of non-agricultural development on the agricultural system.

Agricultural development in or next to the Natural Heritage System (NHS) may trigger an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to demonstrate no negative impact on the NHS.