An Economic Analysis of Rural Land Use Policies in Ontario (1951-2014)

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Wang, Yi
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University of Guelph

There is a widely held public perception that agricultural land is being converted to non-agricultural uses at a high, even an alarming rate, in Ontario. This perception has had an appreciable effect on public policy. The purpose of this study is to revisit Frankena and Scheffman’s findings to determine if they still hold for the period of time that has elapsed since 1980. First, I examine the empirical evidence on the amount of agricultural land in Ontario and how that has changed over time. Second, I develop a framework for evidence-based policy making with respect to land use. I conclude that the area of cropland in Ontario has been essentially constant since 1951, and that Frankena and Scheffman’s (1980) conclusion about land use policy could benefit from increased regard for critical economic concepts still holds.

Ontario Rural Land Use Policies, 1951-2014, Economic Analysis, market failure, non-market failure, economic calculation debate, Greenbelt Policies, Greenbelt Plan, Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan, Niagara Escarpment Plan, Provincial Policy Statements