The area known as Halton or Halton Region is found in Southern Ontario, Canada, forty minutes west of Toronto. Halton is comprised of four large areas: Burlington, Oakville, the town of Milton and Halton Hills. Halton Region area mass is 232,000 acres (939 km2) of land and is one of the fastest growing communities in all of Canada for its close location to the city of Toronto and its picturesque beauty. Halton Region rests on part of the Niagara Escarpment, which is recognised by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as natural occurring bio reserve and is home to some of Ontario’s rarest birds, plants and trees.
Despite urban sprawl exploding across the region, agriculture is still recognised as the leading prominent land use. Farming in the Halton region dates back to when William Halton, secretary to Francis Gore who served as Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada from 1806 to 1816, discovered the land and started some of the earliest agriculture settlements in the region. By 1850, Halton had emerged as a major lumber and wheat producer in Upper Canada and from 1835 to 1860. Oakville grew rapidly to become Halton’s largest shipping and urban centre. Halton farmers turned from wheat to dairy farming and fruit growing soon after in response for agricultural products in nearby urban centres.
Today, only 15% of the land in Halton is used for agriculture due to urban sprawl. In the 60’s farmland was being sold for suburban development and thus planning became a critical factor in the urbanization of formerly rural areas. Currently, the political riff known as the Green Belt legislation is in motion to protect the natural green spaces left in areas across Southern Ontario. This is causing farmers, already affected by deceasing profit margins and rising costs of shipping and producing, to feel outraged towards the Canadian Government since the Greenbelt act restricts their land use and prioritizes the actual selling of their land for urban development.
Environmental strife in the area currently rest on the expansion of numerous quarries that rest in the heart of the Niagara Escarpment. The mining for cement and gravel is on the rise to build new highways and buildings in part of the urban sprawl. Residents who live in the areas around these quarries complain of loud blasting, sulphuric water, and driving concerns towards the thousands of gravel trucks that speed down the roads. There are rumours that say the blasting are affecting the natural watershed within the Niagara Escarpment, disrupting the flow of water carved out from centuries of glacier melt and causing natural wells and reserves to dry out, or become contaminated by sulphuric water.
Urban sprawl is coming to Halton for its charming beauty and strong community roots. One of the largest growing regions of Halton is the town of Milton, famous for P.L. Robertson Company, maker of the square-slotted Robertson screw and Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield. The town of Milton rests by the 401 highway and is in direct location of the Niagara Escarpment and the Bruce Trail. Milton is also the acting Regional seat for politics.