Growth will impact Northumberland agricultural industry 

Article by Valerie MacDonald: TAPimage©2020

The ‘Enhancing Municipal Capacity to Support Agriculture in the Greenbelt’ report from the University of Guelph’s Dr. Wayne Caldwell describes Northumberland County’s agricultural sector as “small but mighty,” says the County’s planning manager Dwayne Campbell.

And like other parts of south-central Ontario in the Greenbelt, the County is suffering pressures on agriculture and the loss of farm practices Campbell told members of its economic development/tourism and planning committee on Aug. 4.

To build the necessary capacity for agriculture through updating the County’s Official Plan — and to meet the provincial imposed new growth legislation — the land-use-management Plan must have room for the growth of 30,000 more people and 4,400 more jobs, he said.

That’s the equivalent of doubling the population of both Cobourg and Port Hope to bring the County’s total population to 122,000, he explained.

Northumberland County is urbanizing faster than in 2010, Campbell also stressed. And growth is progressing rapidly.

He noted that the County’s septic permits for the second quarter totalled well into the 80s and this “speaks volumes to the growth volumes” when compared to the past three years when it has been 40 to 50 permits for any quarter.

“The growth is here. We’re seeing it on the ground in construction projects,” Campbell said.

Committee member and Alnwick/Haldimand Mayor Gail Latchford agreed that building numbers in her municipality are going up despite COVID-19 and the increased costs of building materials. “It doesn’t seem to be holding anybody back,” she said.

The updated Official Plan has to get out in front of this growth to ensure there is capacity in the Greenbelt to support the agriculture industry and this requires management of “community and land,” Campbell said.

In other committee business, tourism manager Eileen Lum provided an update on initiatives to increase wellness tourism in Northumberland. Building on a plan launched in 2020, an RFP will see a selected consultant bring forward a program that links the County’s outdoor offerings from farms to settings like the Ranney Gorge Suspension Bridge to food and related offerings, Lum explained. This program will launch this winter and is part of the County’s recovery program into 2022/23, she said.

Warden Bob Crate agreed with the initiative noting that “tourism is one of our better assets.”

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