Markham votes to build over “best farmland in Canada”

Markham votes to build over “best farmland in Canada”

It's not easy being green (in Markham) (Image: SorinNechita) 

The town of Markham has spent much of the last six months debating a proposal that would have forbidden the development of farmland in its east end. Last night, the plan went down in flames as town councillors voted to side with a more traditional growth plan (read: tract housing and two-car garages).

The Toronto Star reports:

The heated debate has pitted environmentalists and those who believe that more outward sprawl without an accompanying investment of transit infrastructure is a recipe for more gridlock against those who believe that growth is inevitable and must be managed and planned for.

At stake is the remaining 2,000 hectares of prime agricultural land, considered the best in Canada, which lies in the white belt and is the focus of battles between environmentalists and developers.

Tuesday’s vote means that about 1,000 hectares will be developed, while the remaining 1,000 hectares of white belt land will be the subject of study by town staff on whether it should be included in a Greenbelt expansion request to the province.

The campaign against the “food belt” had all sorts of humour, including fear-mongering ads about the terrifying prospect of Markham residents having to live in apartments. For their part, the pro-belters trotted out David Suzuki, who favoured the plan. Still, it was voted down 7-6.

• Plan to expand city on GTA farmland to go ahead [Toronto Star]
• Markham doesn’t need David Suzuki to tell it how to grow without paving paradise [Globe and Mail]