The Province of Ontario requires municipalities to protect prime agricultural areas for long-term use for local agriculture. The purpose of a Land Evaluation and Area Review system, or LEAR, is to assist in the identification of these prime agricultural areas.
In 2011 Ottawa was home to 1,125 farm holdings, comprising 120,000 hectares of farmland dedicated to a mixture of cash crops, livestock operations and a growing number of local fresh food producers. These operations produced agricultural products with a value estimated at over $200 million.
In December 2016, the City of Ottawa adopted a new LEAR system to replace the system developed by the former Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton in 1997. That system resulted in the identification of the agricultural areas designated as Agricultural Resource Areas as shown on Schedule A to the City’s Official Plan.
What is the LEAR system?
The primary component is the identification of land, comprised of soils, classed as 1, 2 and 3 in the Canada Land Inventory (CLI).
These soils provide the greatest flexibility to support a variety of crops. A LEAR system also uses other factors in addition to soil class in order to identify the best areas of ongoing agriculture. The results of the assessment of each rural property using the LEAR criteria are mapped and the prime agricultural areas are identified as areas of 250 ha or greater that are predominantly CLI classes 1-3 soils.
This new LEAR system updates a number of factors to respond to new soils mapping and reflects changes in the size and nature of farms over the last 20 years. The Ontario Municipal Board directed the City to complete this update as part of the comprehensive review of the Official Plan.
The LEAR report has two volumes:
LEAR Volume 1 [PDF 3.61 MB] contains a description of the new LEAR system and how properties are scored.
LEAR Volume 2 [PDF 7.59 MB] contains LEAR data for each scored property.
How is the LEAR system used?
The new LEAR was used as part of the review of the Official Plan and will inform the assessment of applications in the Agricultural Resource Area designation, such as new renewable energy projects or new agriculture-related uses.
Changes proposed to the Agricultural Resource Area designation following the update of the LEAR system have been incorporated into the Official Plan.
City of Ottawa
Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development
110 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, ON K1P 1J1
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