2017 Harvest

2017 Harvest

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

So-called farm land "tax grab" appeal dismissed by Ontario Court of Appeal

Last February, I wrote a post about a Divisional Court decision that overturned a decision of the Normal Farm Practices Review Board involving a former oil refinery site (Normal Farm Practices Board decision overturned by Divisional Court ).  Why would normal farm practices be an issue for a former refinery site?  In the view of the municipality involved, the owners of the development land were attempting to circumvent municipal zoning laws and avoid non-agricultural property tax rates by using the land for agricultural purposes.  The Ministry of the Environment had earlier restricted the use of the .and to industrial or commercial use.  Read Farms, the tenants on the 400-acre parcel of land, were growing cash crops.

Read Farms appealed the Divisional Court ruling to the Court of Appeal, unsuccessfully.  Both the Divisional Court appeal and the appeal before the Court of Appeal determined that the Normal Farm Practices Protection Board did not have the authority in this case to invalidate or overrule the zoning by-law of the Town of Oakville which prohibited the use of the Read Farms land for farming purposes.  As the Court of Appeal wrote:
Therefore, when s. 6(1) [of the Farming Practices Protection Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. F-6] is read in conjunction with the preamble and other provisions of the Act, it is readily apparent that the Board only has jurisdiction to consider the applicability of by-laws to normal farming practices that are carried out on agricultural lands. The Act does not permit circumvention of legitimate municipal planning regarding the land use designations of various lands.
Read the decision at: Oakville (Town) v. Read.