Canada They've lived on their farm for 200 years - now a school board wants a chunk of it

04:56  09 may  2018
04:56  09 may  2018 Source:   cbc.ca

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David McCann and his family are fighting to keep a piece of land they ' ve been farming for nearly two centuries. The Halton Catholic District School board wants to expropriate 20 acres for a new high school . Doug Ford plans to open up 'big chunk ' of Greenbelt for development.

But while his family has lived and worked their 200 -acre plot of land in Halton Region for nearly two centuries, a school board looking to build on his land is putting that life at risk. "This is what we' ve done all of our lives , this is what we know," McCann said.

a man standing on top of a grass covered field: David McCann and his family are fighting to keep a piece of land they've been farming for nearly two centuries. The Halton Catholic District School board wants to expropriate 20 acres for a new high school.© Trevor Dunn/CBC David McCann and his family are fighting to keep a piece of land they've been farming for nearly two centuries. The Halton Catholic District School board wants to expropriate 20 acres for a new high school.

David McCann can tell just from the sound of his cows bawling whether there's a coyote nearby. He can tell just from rolling the earth around between his fingers whether it's planting season — but while his family has lived and worked their 200-acre plot of land in Halton Region for nearly two centuries, a school board looking to build on his land is putting that life at risk.

"This is what we've done all of our lives, this is what we know," McCann said.

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David McCann and his family are fighting to keep a piece of land they ' ve been farming for nearly two centuries. The Halton Catholic District School board wants to expropriate 20 acres for a new high school . Doug Ford plans to open up 'big chunk ' of Greenbelt for development.

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With his daughter, son, brother and elderly father all working the farm every day, it's a family affair for the McCanns. But the Halton Catholic School Board has its sights set on nearly 20 acres, enough for about 15,000 high school students — land it says it needs because of growing enrolment that threatens to spill over capacity by about 2020 or 2021.

The stretch of farmland is in a settlement area just outside the Greenbelt, a swath of protected forest and wetland that runs around the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area. Developers own land adjacent to the area, says McCann, and already he's dealing with two other expropriations to widen the nearby road and highway to support a growing residential population.

Curious kids next to '2,000-pound animals'

Milton is one of the fastest-growing towns in the area. And more homes mean more kids.

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Share: David McCann's family has lived and worked the 200 -acre plot of land in Halton Region for nearly two centuries, but a school board looking to build on his land is putting that life at risk.

Share: David McCann's family has lived and worked the 200 -acre plot of land in Halton Region for nearly two centuries, but a school board looking to build on his land is putting that life at risk.

For McCann, developing without planning for needs like that isn't just illogical, it's unfair — and he questions why a school site wasn't secured in the first place when the residential area was being planned.

"The developers should be responsible for that. It's like your neighbour coming up to you and saying, 'Oh, I put an addition on my house but I don't have room for a garage, so I'm going to stick it on your property. Here's a couple of bucks for you."

McCann's made his stance clear before, saying he told the town as early as 2010 during a development meeting that he had no plans to move.

Besides, he says, putting a school on his land isn't safe.

"You're going to put kids who are curious next to 2,000-pound animals," he says, noting livestock is one of the most common killers and cripplers for those in the farming sector. Add that to the fact that the plot is currently a hayfield, laden with pollen from the wheat field nearby and cattle dander.

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What They ' ve lived on their farm for 200 years - now a school board wants a chunk of it . By: cbc.ca 20 days ago.

What They ' ve lived on their farm for nearly 200 years — now a school board wants a chunk of it . By: cbc.ca 10 days ago.

a brown cow standing on top of a grass covered field: McCann's cattle pastures and barns are surrounded by new subdivisions and he says placing a school so close to '2,000-pound' farm animals isn't safe for young students.© YanJun Li/CBC McCann's cattle pastures and barns are surrounded by new subdivisions and he says placing a school so close to '2,000-pound' farm animals isn't safe for young students.

Schools nearly at capacity

McCann isn't naive about change. He remembers growing up seeing horse and buggies going by where busy highways now sit. Communities have to grow, he acknowledges.

Already there are about 3,500 students registered at the two Catholic secondary schools, the Halton Catholic board says, surpassing their respective building capacities. Portable classrooms are being added, but are expected to fill up within two years.

Along with the new school, the board says it plans to build a service block to provide water and wastewater services, and new road access. Those new facilities, it says, will help buffer students from the barns where cattle are housed. Fencing will be a further buffer, it says.

The board also says it followed a planning process in consultation with the town of Milton and Halton Region.

Tim Gray, executive director of Environmental Defence, an environmental action advocacy group, says many in southern Ontario's farming communities argue that farms near urban areas should be shielded by the same protections that the Greenbelt receives.

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They ' ve lived on their farm for nearly 200 years — now a school board wants a chunk of it | CBC News. David McCann's family has lived and worked the 200 -acre plot of land in Halton Region for nearly two centuries, but a school board looking to build on his land is putting that life at risk.

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"The more that you allow cities to gobble up high-quality farmland and displace the farming community, the less you're going to have for the future," he told CBC Toronto.

"We know that there's enough land inside urban boundaries that we really don't need to continue to allow this urban sprawl onto farmland," he explains. "We should be developing more compact buildings — housing, infrastructure like schools  — inside of our existing cities on underutilized land."

a sign in front of a fence: McCann is already dealing with two other expropriations to widen the nearby road and highway to support a growing residential population.© YanJun Li/CBC McCann is already dealing with two other expropriations to widen the nearby road and highway to support a growing residential population.

'A tough battle'

McCann feels he's fighting a losing battle, saying representatives from all levels of government have told him the school board has final say over expropriation.

"When they do the expropriation, instead of going to court, I have to go to them to plead my case. But they're the ones doing the expropriation. So it's a tough battle to win," he said.

Over the years, McCann says he's had offer after offer from developers hungry for his land.

"We've always turned them away," he said. But he points out their offers have consistently been higher than the $1.81 million that he says the board is estimating.

"Some people are driven by money. I'm not, I'm driven by the farm … This is what i like to do, this is what i want to do … This is my home," he said.

"At the end of the day, what's money? It's all about your family, right?"

a yellow flower: David McCann can tell just from the sound of his cows bawling whether there's a coyote nearby, and can tell just from rolling the earth around between his fingers whether it's planting season.© YanJun Li/CBC David McCann can tell just from the sound of his cows bawling whether there's a coyote nearby, and can tell just from rolling the earth around between his fingers whether it's planting season.

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