Finding the Balance

Evolving Provincial & Municipal Governance of Nutrient Management


Dr. W.J. Caldwell, Professor,
School of Environmental Design and Rural Development
University of Guelph


Ontario Pork

rural project description

The research will focus on the management of environmental issues related to agriculture in Ontario. The research will provide the following tangibles:

  • Identify “leaders, laggers and antagonists.” Which municipalities are working with the new regulations, which municipalities are slow to respond and which municipalities are taking a confrontational approach (withholding building permits from farmers, challenging provincial authority in court, passing antagonistic by-laws etc.)
  • Provide information that will identify on-going municipal practices that are detrimental to agriculture and inconsistent with the intent of the province to create a “level playing field”
  • Identify the approach taken in Alberta and Michigan to manage the change in jurisdiction between the province (state) and municipality. This will include lessons for Ontario
  • Allow municipalities to identify their approach relative to other areas within the province (allowing them to make appropriate adjustments to their own planning documents)
  • Provide insight into how quickly applications are being processed under the Nutrient Management Act
  • Provide recommendations for improving the provincial – municipal relationship
goals and objectives

The Nutrient Management Act represents a fundamental shift in planning for agriculture in Ontario. Not only are there new regulations but there is a substantially different provincial-municipal relationship. One of the goals of the legislation is to harmonize the regulatory framework for agriculture and in particular livestock production across Ontario. The success of this goal will depend on the cooperation of municipalities as this regulatory framework is implemented over the next several years.

In this context the research has the following objectives:

  • To identify issues related to the transition between provincial – municipal governance
  • To develop policy options in response to the inevitable challenges that will occur as the municipal- provincial regulatory framework is clarified
  • To annually monitor the progress of municipalities in amending their by-laws to reflect the new regulatory framework (the research will continue until December, 2006 to fully account for the implementation of the regulation affecting existing livestock facilities above 300 Nutrient Units in July, 2005)
  • To analyze the time required for approvals- what works and what doesn’t work
  • To review and analyze the strategies used in Alberta and Michigan where they have already experienced the transfer of municipal authority to the province or state

The research addresses the Environment research priority. The successful implementation of the regulations will be critical to both the farm industry and the environment.