It could take several months before the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) hands down a decision on converting 2,400 hectares of farmland into urban development on the border of Halton Hills. The land in question is in the far northwest corner of Brampton, bounded by Winston Churchill Boulevard to the west, Mayfield Road to the north, Creditview Road to the east and the Credit River to the south. This is just east of the Halton Hills border. Parties involved in the OMB process, including lawyers representing various local stakeholders, made their final submissions to board chair John Aker recently. Aker opted to reserve his decision until all of the "materials" presented during the hearing are reviewed and carefully considered. Peel Regional and Brampton planners told the OMB that converting rural land in northwest Brampton into residential space is necessary if Peel is to accommodate 1.65 million people by 2031. David Waters, manager of land use policy for the City of Brampton said under the Places to Grow legislation, brought forth by the provincial government, Brampton and the region must take steps to accommodate an influx of people expected to settle in Peel. According to estimates, the population living in the Greater Golden Horseshoe will swell by nearly 4 million over the next several decades. The Region of Peel will not be able to reach the targets mandated by the province without northwest Brampton, Waters said. Waters, along with Peel planner Brian Hill, testified at the hearing intended to deal with a plan to turn 2,400 hectares of farmland into an urban area. It will take 25 years before farmland in northwest Brampton will be completely phased out and it will be at least 2011 before development begins, the OMB was told. Initially six parties were opposed to the plan, dubbed Region of Peel Amendment (ROPA) 15, but the majority have settled with municipal authorities. But Therese Gain Taylor, head of Citizens for Ethical Civic Engagement (CECE), a local environmentalist group, continued to contest the implementation of ROPA 15. Gain Taylor argued northwest Brampton is home to prime agricultural land that must be maintained. Jerome Hagarty, an agrologist and expert on farming issues, told the OMB that converting farmland in northwest Brampton into urban space is the best option given the circumstances. He said to move the development further north into Caledon, for instance, would be a less viable alternative given that that community boasts better agricultural land. Hagarty also said except for a handful of small-scale operations, farming in Brampton has been in decline for a number of years. Both Waters and Hill told the OMB that planners have put in a great deal of effort in making sure "environmentfriendly" models are factored into ROPA 15. Planners have spent nearly six years drafting a plan that would address many of the concerns brought forth by stakeholders. The Town of Halton Hills and Halton Region both had participant status at the hearing. The month before the hearing began, Halton Hills council reluctantly agreed to accept the City of Brampton's Official Plan amendment on the northwest Brampton area after that city planners had made changes to accommodate the Town's concerns. The Town was concerned about the timing of a Peel North South Transportation Corridor that could possibly run through Halton Hills. To appease Halton Hills, the City of Brampton switched the timing from 2011 to 2021, allowing time to complete a previously-agreed upon intermunicipal transportation study and EA study, scheduled to begin next year.