Markham faces "urban squeeze" if "forced farming" land freeze becomes law

MARKHAM, ON, Feb. 16 /CNW/ - A group representing north Markham landowners who own 2,200 acres of land is warning the town that forbidding future growth by legislating "forced farming" or freezing development on rural lands will result in what the group calls "urban squeeze".

The North Markham Landowners' Group, (NMLG), says that current and future residents of the town will face tremendous "urban squeeze" in the form of an "apartment belt" of high-density development, clogged transportation arteries, destruction of existing commercial buildings and single-family homes as well as higher taxes if urban activists get their way by freezing future development on rural land in Markham, some of which has been earmarked for future growth.

The landowners' group says calls by urban activists to block future housing and employment growth on privately owned rural land will put Markham in a straitjacket, forcing development up instead of out and putting even more strain on arenas, sports fields, parks and schools.

Under Ontario's "Places To Grow" plan, Markham is obligated to build homes, schools and facilities for an expected additional 151,000 people and 96,000 jobs by 2031. It cannot abdicate this responsibility or force all these people into high rises. To ensure future economic prosperity and quality of life, Markham needs to plan responsibly and ensure there is enough land available to meet the needs of its residents, employers and employees.

The urban activists, many of whom do not even live in Markham, haven't outlined how they plan to force farmers to continue working, nor admitted that their scheme entails crippling the supply of single-family homes, forcing new residents into high rises, and in turn, undermining existing communities in Markham.

There are already 9,000 acres of protected, publicly-owned rural land in Markham, 43 per cent of the town's existing rural land total, more than four times the acreage owned by North Markham Landowners Group members, but much of this public land is being taken out of production by the same urban activists who say they want more farming.

The landowners' group says the urban activists should focus on getting this publicly-owned land back into agricultural production, assuming that farmers can be found to work it.

SOURCE NORTH MARKHAM LANDOWNERS' GROUP

For further information: For further information: Jim Maclean, (416) 919-4319

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NORTH MARKHAM LANDOWNERS' GROUP

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