OPA 29

 The Municipality is currently doing a review of the prime agricultural area designation!

As you may have heard the Municipality is conducting an Official Plan Amendment (OPA) 29 which involves a review of the prime agricultural area designations throughout Mississippi Mills. 

If you have questions about the OPA, please see below for the most frequently asked questions regarding this proposed amendment.

If you didn't find an answer to your question below there will be a virtual Information Session held on April 28, 2021 at 6:30 pm via Zoom. The information session is a chance for residents to learn more about OPA 29 and ask questions.  To participate in the virtual information session please register with mrivet@jlrichards.ca or call (343) 803-4533. Deadline to register is April 25, 2021.

A virtual Public Meeting will be held on May 4, 2021 at 6:00 pm for those who wish to share their viewpoint with Council. Due to COVID-19 restrictions there will be no in-person participation at the meeting, however those interested in speaking at the virtual Public Meeting can register with mrivet@jlrichards.ca by April 30, 2021. Comments and questions can also be provided to staff before the meeting on May 4, 2021 to be considered by Council. Please send your written comments to mrivet@jlrichards.ca referencing "OPA 29".

Why are we doing a prime agricultural land review?

As per Lanark County’s approval decision on Official Plan Amendment No. 21 (OPA 21), which was a Five-Year Review of the Municipality of Mississippi Mills’ Community Official Plan, the Municipality was to identify its Prime Agricultural Areas (and related policies) using an alternative agricultural land evaluation system approved by the Province. This agriculture review process is referred to as a “Agriculture Land Evaluation and Area Review”.

Why are these changes being considered?

 Updating the Prime Agricultural Areas and related policies is part of the OPA 21 (Five Year Review of the Official Plan) and is done to ensure consistency with the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) and is based on the Provincially-approved approach developed by Ontario Ministry for Agriculture, Foods and Rural Affairs OMAFRA.

Are agricultural lands being removed?

Since the LEAR approach differs from the previously used to designate Prime Agricultural Lands, there will be some changes in the lands designated. As such, some lands previously designated as Prime Agricultural Lands may lose this designation under the new LEAR.

What land does this affect?

The lands affected by this Amendment include all Rural lands within the Municipality of Mississippi Mills.

Appendix ‘A’ of the Draft OPA 29 shows the affected lands and the proposed changes to the land use designations and changes to Schedule A – Rural Land Use.

The Municipality, through the planning department/JL Richards, Council members or agricultural agencies and associations, has reached out to landowners who may be affected by these proposed changes. If you want to know if you're land is affected please view the maps in the Draft OPA 29 or contact Marc Rivet at mrivet@jlrichards.ca or call (343) 803-4533.

Proposed Prime Agriculture Designation Map

 Will I lose severance rights? 

The short answer is yes, for some people. It depends on your property’s designation, however some properties will gain severance rights.

Currently, within the Agricultural Area, landowners can only sever a lot for a surplus dwelling per Provincial Policy Statement (this hasn’t changed).  The proposed Prime Agricultural Area review is proposing a slightly larger area than what had been designated in the 2006 Community Official Plan.  We have identified approximately 18 properties that would lose the potential to sever new lots. However, these are parcels that are changing from Prime Agricultural Area to Rural Area and may gain severance rights. Figures have been prepared highlighting which properties are being affected based on Draft OPA 29

Potential Future Severances Map

Will I pay more/less taxes when my land no longer designated as agriculture and becomes Rural? 

No, you will not pay more in taxes if the property changes from Agricultural to Rural zoning designation. The property taxes for a “Farm” are determined by the use, not the designation.  Farmers must belong to one of the recognized farming associations and be included on a Ministry property database.  For more information on how property assessment is determined for farm properties please see the following Municipal Property Assessment Corporation link - “How MPAC Assesses Farm Properties.” Farm Property Assessments | MPAC

 Can I see the mapping?

Yes, mapping is available for viewing online at: https://www.mississippimills.ca/en/news/resources/24473--OPA-29-AG-Review_Rev02.pdf
The Municipality is looking into posting this information on additional platforms (i.e. interactive CGIS layer on the Municipality’s online ArcGIS platform). You will be notified if additional means of viewing mapping become available.

 How is OMAFRA involved? 

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) is an Ontario government ministry responsible for the food, agriculture and rural sectors of the Canadian province of Ontario. Over several meetings OMAFRA advised on the LEAR (Land Evaluation and Area Review) methodology and will play a technical advisory role to the Municipality and County (County being the approval authority). 

 Can we object to the point system  or argue the points allocated to my parcel? 

Yes, if you do not agree with the score your parcel received, you are permitted to challenge it by contacting Marc Rivet at mrivet@jlrichards.ca or call (343) 803-4533. If unable to reach a consensus in initial discussions, you are entitled to pursue additional studies (i.e. private soil assessments) at your own cost to demonstrate how your parcel does not meet the threshold score for Prime Agricultural Designation (score of 66 points or more). 

 What is the role of the Agriculture Committee in the LEAR? 

 Often times Council will refer matters to a committee when there is no public consultation planned or simply to get feedback on a proposal.  In the case of the LEAR, the Committee will participate in a background meeting on April 22, 2021 with the Municipal Planner, Lanark County Planner and representative from the Provincial Government - Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Foods and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA).  The Committee will also be invited to the virtual Information Session on April 28, 2021 and the Public Meeting May 4, 2021.  The members of the Agriculture Committee can provide comment on this LEAR and its findings from now until the Bylaw is adopted which is expected to be sometime in June, 2021.

 How can I get involved or receive more information?

JL Richards and the Municipality will be hosting a virtual information session on April 28, 2021 at 6:30 pm via Zoom. To participate in the virtual information session please register with mrivet@jlrichards.ca or call (343) 803-4533. Deadline to register is April 25, 2021.

A virtual public meeting will be held on May 4, 2021 at 6:00 pm. Due to COVID-19 restrictions there will be no in-person participation at the meeting, however those interested in speaking at the virtual Public Meeting can register with mrivet@jlrichards.ca by April 30, 2021. Comments and questions can be provided to staff from now until the bylaw is adopted by Council which is expected to be in June, 2021. Please send your written comments to mrivet@jlrichards.ca referencing "OPA 29"

 Who do I talk to if I have more questions?

If you have further questions regarding OPA 29 please contact Marc Rivet at mrivet@jlrichards.ca or call (343) 803-4533. Your comments are always welcome!

OPA 29 Documents and Additional Resources: