In a May 27, 2021 decision, Ontario’s Normal Farm Practices Protection Board (the “Board”) ruled that certain municipal by-laws of the Municipality of Brooke-Alvinston (the “Respondent”) restricted “normal farm practices” within the meaning of the Farming and Food Production Protection Act, 1998 (the “Act”). The impugned activities involved the importation, centralized storage, and distribution of fertilizer from a farm property owned and operated by David Buurma and, later, 1837107 Ontario Ltd. (together, the “Applicants”) to other farm properties within the same farm unit.
The application was initiated by the Applicants on the basis that the storage and distribution of fertilizer occurring on the property owned and operated by the Applicants (the “Subject Lands”) constituted a “normal farm practice” within the meaning of the Act and challenged the application of two municipal by-laws of the Respondent. The basis of the challenge was section 6 of the Act, which provides that any municipal by-law that restricts a “normal farm practice” carried on as part of an agricultural operation is inoperative to the extent of the restriction.
The Subject Lands are located in the Municipality of Brooke-Alvinston and are subject to the Respondent’s Zoning By-law Number 9-13 and Tidy Yards By-law Number 35-19. However, if the by-laws were to be applied in accordance with the Respondent’s interpretation, the result would have been to prohibit the activities of the Applicants from taking place on the Subject Lands.
Although diverging evidence was submitted during the proceedings by both experts and lay witnesses, upon a detailed examination, the Board found that the Applicants were indeed carrying on an agricultural operation on the Subject Lands and that the activities of the Applicants was a “normal farm practice” within the meaning of the Act. The Board therefore held that, pending certain modifications to its storage facilities, the fertilizer activities at issue could not be restricted by the Respondent’s by-laws.
Eric Davis and Trenton Johnson (Municipal Law; Civil Litigation) of Miller Thomson LLP represented the successful Applicants in the proceedings.