Canadians love parks and protected areas and visit them often, especially this time of year. These natural areas protect our country's biological richness and offer Canadians and visitors alike places for respite, solitude in nature and the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual benefits of time spent outdoors. We owe it to all to ensure that our parks, including Rouge National Urban Park, are supported with strong laws and policies.
More than half the planet's people now live in urban areas. The need to supply food, shelter, fresh water and energy to billions of urban residents is resulting in loss of farmland, forests, wetlands and other ecosystems, as well as the critical ecological services they support, like providing food, clean air and drinking water. growing number of jurisdictions have responded by enacting strong land-use policies to protect farmland and green space through sound urban planning
How the world has changed for Canada's farmers in 2013. The hottest sector of the country's real estate market is, you guessed it, farmland. The price of farmland in Canada has outpaced both residential and commercial real estate, gaining an average of 12 percent over the last five years. In some hotspots, such as southwestern Ontario, the price-per-acre has been going up by as much as 50 percent a year. Even pension plans and hedge funds have become players in the pursuit of prime agricultural land, interest that is only sending prices that much higher.
By abandoning the UN Desertification Convention, as well as other important international agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol, Canada is sending the wrong message to the world community. We're saying that exporting resources like oil and timber matter more to us than contributing to dialogue and partnership on global issues.
Global trends show a growing number of countries, agribusinesses and large corporations scanning the globe for land purchase. They are not ignoring Canada. If we continue to lose farmland for sprawl and foreign investment, we ignore our future food sovereignty.
The lack of affordable housing in Toronto drives demand for suburban housing and this threatens the implementation of the Growth Plan. To prevent social and environmental collapse, we need to link sprawl-related environmental issues with affordability.