Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Trying to make it possible to produce food locally

If food is to be produced locally and the ALR is to have any meaning other than free parks for urbanites, local government has to get out of the way of agriculture infrastructure.

This region needs to have at least several abattoirs. Metchosin is clearly the right place to have this on the Westshore. I wonder why the right to farm act does not apply in this case?

This comes from the Goldstream News Gazette

Metchosin slaughterhouse moves forward

After a heated planning and environment committee meeting, Metchosin council passed the motion to prepare a rezoning bylaw for a proposed abattoir.

Abattoir owner Michael Peterson is operating Cole Creek Farm on Winfall Road and will be until 2011 when his lease expires. At which time Peterson hopes to open a new abattoir on Tom Plasterer’s 180-acre farm on Lindholm Road.

Plasterer and John Buchanan, both sheep farmers are project partners in the proposed abattoir.

Some residents and property owners on Lindholm Road are giving the cold shoulder to the possibility of this new neighbour.

Paul and Kelly Gruno, neighbouring residents see the abattoir as a step towards industrialization in Metchosin.

“It’s a windy valley with odours, our property values will be devastated,” Kelly said. “We wanted to grow old on our properties.”

That feeling echoed by several people at the meeting. Some said if the project is given the go-ahead, they would move.

However, other Mechosinites claimed if the rezoning was rejected they would be out of work.

Terry Sterling, a farmer of 22 years, said without a slaughterhouse, fewer people will keep animals in Metchosin. Without animals there won’t be enough manure for farming, he said.

“It’s a tough thing to sit at this table,” Mayor John Ranns said. “The abattoir is good for the community but it will have an impact on some local residents.”

Others spoke in their support for the abattoir and its contribution to the community.

“We shouldn’t be rural in name only,” said Derek Wulff, president of the Association for the Protection of Rural Metchosin. “To be a rural community we have to have these rural amenities.”

After hearing neighbours voice their comments, Buchanan said if the rezoning was passed he would do his best to eliminate the residents’ concerns.

Each day the abattoir is in operation, all waste from sheep, goats, pigs and chickens would be trucked off the property, he said. This is a practice Cole Creek Farm is currently using, though they are only a sheep abattoir at the moment.

Due to mad cow disease (BSE), certain parts of cows would have to be disposed of by private companies and sent to an incinerator in Alberta.

Before getting picked up, cow waste will be stored in a separate chilled room ensuring there would be no smell, Buchanan said. “I don’t want there to be a smell of rotting meat.”

Though the idea of composting the waste was discussed, Buchanan said he is not sure if they would ever use it as an option.“I don’t think if ever we would do it,” he said.

As for the traffic concerns, Buchanan said, “I don’t think traffic is a serious issue, we might increase it (on Lindholm Road) by 25 cars a day.”

The only issue Buchanan is uncertain of is noise. Currently the animals are stored in covered, outdoor pens. At the present site there have been no noise complaints, said Peterson.

If the rezoning is passed and noise does become an issue, Buchanan said he would “side” the pens meaning keep the animals in ventilated enclosed pens so the sound would not travel the same. “We can minimize the effect,” Buchanan said.

The abattoir rezoning bylaw is scheduled for first readings at the Aug. 11 council meeting. A public hearing will be held in late September.

“Without it I don’t see how most of us (farmers) will continue,” Buchanan said. “Someone would like a lake next to their property, but no one wants a slaughterhouse.”

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