WIT Press

Municipal capacity: a case study of Ontario’s greenbelt to respond to emerging agriculture and agri-food priorities


Free (open access)


Volume 4 (2021), Issue 3



Page Range

243 - 261

Paper DOI



WIT Press


Wayne Caldwell, Elise Geschiere, Emily Sousa & Regan Zink


A large portion of the most agriculturally-viable land in Canada is in the province of Ontario, particularly within the Greenbelt. Within Ontario, municipal governments are the primary mechanism by which provincial land-use policy is implemented, and virtually all agricultural production happens within the boundaries of an upper-tier municipal government. This means that municipal governments (local and regional governments) are the most local level of government responsible for making decisions and implementing programs and policies related to the agriculture and agri-food sector. However, little is known about the structure, knowledge base, and capacity of municipal governments to respond to agricultural and agri-food priorities and issues. This paper presents the results of research identifying a number of positive and negative factors that contribute to municipal capacity. This capacity is varied and relates directly to the ability to address emerging agricultural priorities. Governments and decision-makers who affect the agriculture and agri-food industry must have the capacity and knowl- edge to support the sector and respond to critical issues as they arise. The decisions of elected officials, the resources that municipalities have, and the expertise of staff are all key elements that affect the implementation of provincial priorities and the consideration given to agriculture when creating policies, programs, and initiatives.


agricultural planning, county/regional planning, food systems, municipal capacity, rural community development, Ontario.