Future of rural business in city's hands

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

The future of Hamilton's rural community is in the hands of the city's citizen-appointed agricultural committee.

The city's planning staff appealed to the committee last week to provide them with ideas that would limit the high rate of severances that are allowed each year and control the exploding number of home-based businesses that are illegally operating on farms.

"This is about the future of the rural area for our children and grandchildren," said Paul Mason, director of long-range planning for the city, who is shepherding the creation of a harmonized Rural Official Plan for the city.

Hamilton is one of the top six municipalities in Ontario for having non-farm lot severances. Between 1990 to 1999, the city created 2.68 new lots per 1,000 acres. Mason pointed out there are about 11,000 non-farm residential lots in Hamilton, with 1,000 non-farm residential lots vacant.

"It's always been that way," he said.

Every year almost 30 farms go out of business, in a community that has about 1,515 farmers, in a population of about 44,000 people. Agriculture employs about 4,000 people.

Based upon the statistics, Mason said it becomes even more important to protect farmland and the people who live on it.

Over the last few years severing agricultural property has become an important topic in the rural areas, especially when Paletta International Corporation has managed to purchase and sever properties in the Glanbrook area.

Under its new rural Official Plan, the city is proposing to place restrictions on severances including establishing the date of the building's construction, allowing the severance of a heritage building, stipulating that there has to be no prior severance on the property, adding a rezoning requirement to prevent any new dwellings on the property, stipulating that the land to be severed has to be a farm operation and introducing a minimum size requirement for consolidated farms to be severed.

Additional restrictions on severances, supported by members of the agricultural committee, include establishing strict covenants on the property to prevent misuse, creating an easement across the property and a size minimum for severances.

Mason warned the committee the restrictions are "not foolproof" because the owner could still take the city-initiated planning restrictions to the Ontario Municipal Board for review. The committee also has to decide the limits of the type of businesses farmers can operate on their properties.

City staff are proposing that farmers can only operate agriculture-related businesses. They also want to limit the size of the operation and the number of employees and prevent any outside storage on the agriculture property.

But Flamborough councillor Dave Braden, a member of the agricultural subcommittee, argued the plan is penalizing people who own successful businesses. Braden, who farms, but also owns several side businesses, says Hamilton's rural community needs jobs "in the worst way."

Once a small business becomes successful and starts to grow, said Braden, the city's rules would penalize the business owner.

"(Farmers) are diversifying the local economy," he says. "The emphasis on controls is the worst way (to control illegal businesses)."

Estimates range from between 400 to 600 illegal businesses operating in the rural community.

A few committee members said rural people, who have illegal businesses, would welcome an attempt to legalize their operations. They said residents are afraid their neighbours will find out about their businesses and expose them to the city.

Another problem area for the rural community, said Mason, is determining how best to protect the rural areas' natural heritage system.

One of the troubling points for farmers is the proposed idea, introduced by the provincial Greenbelt legislation and accepted by city planning staff, to create a 30-meter Vegetation Protection Zone for new buildings and structures for agricultural uses to protect natural heritage features and hydrological areas.

The first draft of the city's proposed Rural Official Plan has been circulating in the community since January. The deadline for public comments on the document is April 1.

A second draft will be introduced to the public in the middle of April, and corresponding open houses will be held for public response.

A final draft is expected to be presented to council in June, 2006.

Future of rural business in city's hands

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

The future of Hamilton's rural community is in the hands of the city's citizen-appointed agricultural committee.

The city's planning staff appealed to the committee last week to provide them with ideas that would limit the high rate of severances that are allowed each year and control the exploding number of home-based businesses that are illegally operating on farms.

"This is about the future of the rural area for our children and grandchildren," said Paul Mason, director of long-range planning for the city, who is shepherding the creation of a harmonized Rural Official Plan for the city.

Hamilton is one of the top six municipalities in Ontario for having non-farm lot severances. Between 1990 to 1999, the city created 2.68 new lots per 1,000 acres. Mason pointed out there are about 11,000 non-farm residential lots in Hamilton, with 1,000 non-farm residential lots vacant.

"It's always been that way," he said.

Every year almost 30 farms go out of business, in a community that has about 1,515 farmers, in a population of about 44,000 people. Agriculture employs about 4,000 people.

Based upon the statistics, Mason said it becomes even more important to protect farmland and the people who live on it.

Over the last few years severing agricultural property has become an important topic in the rural areas, especially when Paletta International Corporation has managed to purchase and sever properties in the Glanbrook area.

Under its new rural Official Plan, the city is proposing to place restrictions on severances including establishing the date of the building's construction, allowing the severance of a heritage building, stipulating that there has to be no prior severance on the property, adding a rezoning requirement to prevent any new dwellings on the property, stipulating that the land to be severed has to be a farm operation and introducing a minimum size requirement for consolidated farms to be severed.

Additional restrictions on severances, supported by members of the agricultural committee, include establishing strict covenants on the property to prevent misuse, creating an easement across the property and a size minimum for severances.

Mason warned the committee the restrictions are "not foolproof" because the owner could still take the city-initiated planning restrictions to the Ontario Municipal Board for review. The committee also has to decide the limits of the type of businesses farmers can operate on their properties.

City staff are proposing that farmers can only operate agriculture-related businesses. They also want to limit the size of the operation and the number of employees and prevent any outside storage on the agriculture property.

But Flamborough councillor Dave Braden, a member of the agricultural subcommittee, argued the plan is penalizing people who own successful businesses. Braden, who farms, but also owns several side businesses, says Hamilton's rural community needs jobs "in the worst way."

Once a small business becomes successful and starts to grow, said Braden, the city's rules would penalize the business owner.

"(Farmers) are diversifying the local economy," he says. "The emphasis on controls is the worst way (to control illegal businesses)."

Estimates range from between 400 to 600 illegal businesses operating in the rural community.

A few committee members said rural people, who have illegal businesses, would welcome an attempt to legalize their operations. They said residents are afraid their neighbours will find out about their businesses and expose them to the city.

Another problem area for the rural community, said Mason, is determining how best to protect the rural areas' natural heritage system.

One of the troubling points for farmers is the proposed idea, introduced by the provincial Greenbelt legislation and accepted by city planning staff, to create a 30-meter Vegetation Protection Zone for new buildings and structures for agricultural uses to protect natural heritage features and hydrological areas.

The first draft of the city's proposed Rural Official Plan has been circulating in the community since January. The deadline for public comments on the document is April 1.

A second draft will be introduced to the public in the middle of April, and corresponding open houses will be held for public response.

A final draft is expected to be presented to council in June, 2006.

Future of rural business in city's hands

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

The future of Hamilton's rural community is in the hands of the city's citizen-appointed agricultural committee.

The city's planning staff appealed to the committee last week to provide them with ideas that would limit the high rate of severances that are allowed each year and control the exploding number of home-based businesses that are illegally operating on farms.

"This is about the future of the rural area for our children and grandchildren," said Paul Mason, director of long-range planning for the city, who is shepherding the creation of a harmonized Rural Official Plan for the city.

Hamilton is one of the top six municipalities in Ontario for having non-farm lot severances. Between 1990 to 1999, the city created 2.68 new lots per 1,000 acres. Mason pointed out there are about 11,000 non-farm residential lots in Hamilton, with 1,000 non-farm residential lots vacant.

"It's always been that way," he said.

Every year almost 30 farms go out of business, in a community that has about 1,515 farmers, in a population of about 44,000 people. Agriculture employs about 4,000 people.

Based upon the statistics, Mason said it becomes even more important to protect farmland and the people who live on it.

Over the last few years severing agricultural property has become an important topic in the rural areas, especially when Paletta International Corporation has managed to purchase and sever properties in the Glanbrook area.

Under its new rural Official Plan, the city is proposing to place restrictions on severances including establishing the date of the building's construction, allowing the severance of a heritage building, stipulating that there has to be no prior severance on the property, adding a rezoning requirement to prevent any new dwellings on the property, stipulating that the land to be severed has to be a farm operation and introducing a minimum size requirement for consolidated farms to be severed.

Additional restrictions on severances, supported by members of the agricultural committee, include establishing strict covenants on the property to prevent misuse, creating an easement across the property and a size minimum for severances.

Mason warned the committee the restrictions are "not foolproof" because the owner could still take the city-initiated planning restrictions to the Ontario Municipal Board for review. The committee also has to decide the limits of the type of businesses farmers can operate on their properties.

City staff are proposing that farmers can only operate agriculture-related businesses. They also want to limit the size of the operation and the number of employees and prevent any outside storage on the agriculture property.

But Flamborough councillor Dave Braden, a member of the agricultural subcommittee, argued the plan is penalizing people who own successful businesses. Braden, who farms, but also owns several side businesses, says Hamilton's rural community needs jobs "in the worst way."

Once a small business becomes successful and starts to grow, said Braden, the city's rules would penalize the business owner.

"(Farmers) are diversifying the local economy," he says. "The emphasis on controls is the worst way (to control illegal businesses)."

Estimates range from between 400 to 600 illegal businesses operating in the rural community.

A few committee members said rural people, who have illegal businesses, would welcome an attempt to legalize their operations. They said residents are afraid their neighbours will find out about their businesses and expose them to the city.

Another problem area for the rural community, said Mason, is determining how best to protect the rural areas' natural heritage system.

One of the troubling points for farmers is the proposed idea, introduced by the provincial Greenbelt legislation and accepted by city planning staff, to create a 30-meter Vegetation Protection Zone for new buildings and structures for agricultural uses to protect natural heritage features and hydrological areas.

The first draft of the city's proposed Rural Official Plan has been circulating in the community since January. The deadline for public comments on the document is April 1.

A second draft will be introduced to the public in the middle of April, and corresponding open houses will be held for public response.

A final draft is expected to be presented to council in June, 2006.