Students hold farm festival to promote farmland conservation
Stop Sprawl Students organized farm festival to celebrate local farmlands and protest urban expansion
The event was held at Manorun Organic Farm and aimed to engage students with local farms and raise awareness about the threat of urban sprawl and boundary expansion. The farm festival event had over 120 students attend and celebrate the government's decision to reverse the urban boundary mandates.
Stop Sprawl students is a McMaster University Ontario Public Interest Research Group project, which began as an academic project for a SUSTAIN 2SS3 course. The founding students have continued to work towards their goal of stopping urban boundary expansion both independently and in association with Stop Sprawl Hamilton Ontario.
The primary goal of Stop Sprawl Students has been to call for the repeal of Bill 23, the More Homes Built Faster Act. Bill 23, which received royal assent on Nov. 28, 2022 would enable developers to build homes on Ontario Greenbelt lands and force cities like Hamilton to expand their urban boundary to allow construction of suburban zones on farmland.
In September 2023, as a result of public pressure and the efforts of organizations like Stop Sprawl Students, Premier Doug Ford reversed the government's decision to build on the Greenbelt and force urban boundary expansion upon cities.
However, the threat to Hamilton’s farmland has not yet ceased. According to Sunit Toor, one of the student organizers of the farm festival, Hamilton city council will vote on Nov. 14 on whether to hold or expand the current boundary.
Due to the progression and looming threat of further boundary expansion, Stop Sprawl's Farm Festival event aimed to raise student awareness. Toor encouraged students to reach out to their city councillors and voice their opposition to urban boundary expansion.
At Manorun Organic Farm festival, McMaster students had the opportunity to meet and interact with farm animals, share a meal, engage with the student organizers, learn about the threat of urban expansion that Hamilton’s farmland is facing and come to understand the value and importance of local farms.
Emily Gaul, one of the founders of Stop Sprawl Students, expressed that students in particular ought to care about the threat to local farmland and urban boundary expansion, as the proposed plans could increase grocery prices as well as rent, contrary to the intention of Bill 23.
The fight to protect local farm land is not over and Stop Sprawl Students encouraged McMaster students to call their councillors and support the boundary remaining as it is currently.