FOR BRANT NEWS
On Wednesday of this week, I had the opportunity to join the Grand River Health Care Committee in a forum regarding food security and how we use resources to feed ourselves.
Maybe because it’s at the front of my mind a lot lately, but I started to think about boundary adjustment and the impact of increasing the urban component of Brantford and Brant.
We have a tendency to make all of these issues mutually exclusive, so if we support boundary adjustment we don’t support agriculture or the protection of our food supply.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Boundary adjustment and agriculture can exist side by each and, instead of throwing up barriers, we can look to find new ways of working together to make the future bright for everyone.
Brantford is in the position now that the city has to grow and boundary adjustment is the only real option for us to get the land necessary to see new industrial and residential developments for the next generation.
We talk about infill and intensification and filling existing buildings, but there just isn’t the space required to see the amount of growth that the City of Brantford can manage in the coming decades.
For example, when you are planning industrial land for a community of our size, you generally plan for 2.5 times more than you require immediately to meet future growth. With residential, you need to offer a wide range of opportunities for the potential home buyer, because we all recognize that not everyone wants exactly the same type of housing.
Although we are in competition with the County of Brant (and those are their words, oft spoken in county council), it doesn’t have to be an acrimonious relationship. A little competition is good, as long as the playing field is level.
When we talk about agricultural land and future development, Brantford is not the only community involved in converting agricultural land to industrial and residential. Brant is currently building new residential developments and a new industrial park within their boundaries.
Within the last week, Brant council voted to decrease development fees to make them more competitive with the city for the county’s new 403 industrial park.
Brantford has been remarkably successful in developing the food production sector within our economic development structure. We are conscious of the potential for partnerships and joint economic development initiatives with our municipal and business partners.
The County of Brant is one of the richest and most successful agriculture areas in Ontario and we can all benefit by understanding where our food comes from and the possibilities of developing a 100 km diet community.
As Brantford and Brant move forward with boundary adjustment, we should remain conscious of the diverse and significant opportunities to grow existing economic sectors, while enhancing opportunities to attract new assessment and jobs.
Brantford will remain open-minded and positive about how we can help both communities reach their full potential and, yes, to maintain our wonderful way of life.
Chris Friel is mayor of the City of Brantford.