Acting Mayor Aiken calls for more services at Sackville’s hospital, not provincial cuts

Acting Mayor Ron Aiken

Acting Mayor Ron Aiken says the Higgs government should be expanding services at the Sackville Memorial Hospital not cutting them.

In a letter to the provincial health minister, Aiken writes that providing services in Sackville such as CT and MRI scans would lower the demand for transporting patients to Moncton.

“When someone comes into emergency, for example, if they need a CT-Scan or an MRI, they have to be put into an ambulance and taken up to Moncton and then put back in the ambulance and taken back,” Aiken explained in a telephone interview.

“I’ve been told that if those kinds of machines could be in Sackville, over time you’d certainly save the money and the time of the ambulance service and be able to do a quick diagnostic right here,” he added.

“I also thought it might be useful if we had a [kidney] dialysis unit so people could come from the Tantramar region and they wouldn’t have to go to Moncton,” Aiken said. “Those are the kinds of things I was thinking about.”

‘Vision statement’

Aiken’s letter to Health Minister Dorothy Shephard came in response to her message in November asking New Brunswick mayors to provide her with a “vision statement” to help her prepare for consultations this winter on reforming the health system.

Shephard’s letter said changes are needed to deal with a variety of problems including shortages of nurses, doctors and other health professionals; overcrowded emergency rooms; a lack of hospital beds because about 30% of them are occupied by elderly patients needing long-term care; and, delays in providing hip and knee replacement surgery.

Ron Aiken addressing a protest rally last February outside the Sackville hospital

Last February, a huge public outcry forced the Higgs government to withdraw planned changes at six rural hospitals, including Sackville Memorial. The changes included overnight closure of emergency rooms, moving day surgeries to larger centres and converting acute-care beds into ones serving patients needing longer-term care.

In his letter to the minister, Aiken writes that the Sackville hospital needs to continue with all of its current functions so that it can meet the goal of equal access to health services envisioned in the Canada Health Act.

“We emphasize a full lab service and a 24-hour emergency room…are so closely tied [that] one without the other is untenable,” the letter says. “The residents of our area have a right (based on the idea of equity) to these services.”

The letter adds that people who live in Moncton, Riverview and Dieppe also need the services at the Sackville Memorial Hospital (SMH):

The SMH already acts as a pressure valve on the overcrowding and wait times in Moncton. Wait times for surgery and emergency services in the Moncton hospitals are well above the national average and getting longer. With rapid population growth in the tri-cities area and the aging of the population in New Brunswick, these wait times can only get worse. Staff at the SMH say that, on some shifts, nearly half their patients are from the Moncton area. To close the Emergency Department at SMH and increase pressure on the Moncton hospitals defies logic.

Co-ordinated response

Aiken says he continues to work with the mayors of the five other communities where hospitals faced overnight emergency room closures and other cuts last year.

He adds that the mayors will now be talking to each other about what they want to say during consultations with the health minister.

“We need to be involved in the actual planning of whatever they’re going to do with the health-care system,” he says, adding that the mayors need to impress upon provincial officials that the cuts proposed last February simply won’t work.

“In our view, it’s off the table,” Aiken says.

To read his letter to the health minister, click here.

To read Dorothy Shephard’s letter to New Brunswick mayors, click here.

NOTE: During last week’s Sackville Town Council Meeting, Aiken thanked Sackville residents Kathy Hamer (Edwards), Sandy Burnett and retired doctor Ross Thomas for their help in drafting the letter.

To read the provincial news release announcing the hospital cuts on February 11, 2020, click here.

Posted in Health care, Town of Sackville | Tagged | 3 Comments

Sackville installs new outdoor sculpture as town council seeks money for final phase of flood control project

The Chignecto Balance was created by an art studio in Vancouver

Sackville’s newest outdoor sculpture is now standing 15 feet tall beside the Lorne Street flood control pond ready to record the winds and divert the rain.

Installation of the $25,000 cattail weathervane, called The Chignecto Balance, coincides with town council’s renewed commitment at its meeting on Monday to seek federal and provincial funding for Phase III of the Lorne Street flood control project.

If the town’s application is successful, the $5.2 million third phase would include two additional retention ponds, one in the old Pickard quarry near Mount Allison University and another behind the community gardens.

Plans call for stormwater from all three ponds to be diverted through pipes and ditches across the industrial park for discharge at low tide into the Tantramar River via a new, double-hung aboiteau that the town is hoping the province will install beside its main sewage lagoons.

The town’s share of Phase III would be about $1.3 million.

One in 100 year storm

Town Engineer Dwayne Acton

During Monday’s council meeting, Town Engineer Dwayne Acton said the first two phases — installation of new stormwater pipes under Lorne Street and construction of the 40,000 cubic metre retention pond next to St. James — helped keep the town dry during several big storms.

But he cautioned that a third phase is still needed.

“I must say, we have not even seen anything close to the one-in-one-hundred year storm which the whole project was designed for,” Acton warned.

“We’re looking to complete the project with Phase III to ensure that the one-in-one-hundred year storm, we have the capacity to deal with that water when it comes, not if, but when it comes.”

CAO Jamie Burke echoed Acton’s warning.

“The retention pond on St. James Street only provides us with 40,000 cubic metres of storage,” Burke said. “We know that we’re 60,000 cubic metres short.”

He added it’s important for the town to seek the funds now for Phase III well in advance of the major sewage lagoon upgrades that will be required in the coming years.

“We need to strike while the iron’s hot,” Burke said. “The province has let us know that the money is there and they’re accepting applications, so hence that’s why we’ve tried to move this along as quickly as possible.”

Posted in Town of Sackville | Tagged | 5 Comments

Abattoir rezoning raises questions about notifying residents

Town planner Lori Bickford addressing council on Monday

Sackville Town Council’s approval of zoning changes to allow an abattoir within a few hundred metres of homes is raising questions about why only one homeowner was notified in writing about the project.

Lori Bickford, planning manager/planner with the Southeast Regional Service Commission says all municipalities in southeastern New Brunswick send written notices to those property owners within 100 metres (328 feet) of a proposed zoning change.

“Of course, there would be nothing to prevent a municipality in the future from going above the hundred metres, but within our southeast region for sure, there is nobody that exceeds the 100 metre notification,” Bickford said during Monday’s town council meeting.

Both the town and the Southeast Regional Service Commission posted notices on their websites, but many residents who live only a few hundred metres away on Crescent and Charles Streets as well as on Beal Heights were apparently unaware that town council was considering such a proposal when it first came up in September.

Former Mayor Pat Estabrooks, who lives on Beal Heights, told Warktimes that about 95% of Sackville residents did not know about the proposed abattoir partly because the town no longer has a weekly paper that prints notices from council.

“We should have received a letter,” Estabrooks said.

100 metres is close

One hundred metres (one-tenth of a kilometre) is equivalent to the distance from Lorne and Bridge Streets to the stop lights at the town’s main intersection or from the new Town Hall to Ben’s Service Station.

It’s not the first time residential property owners have complained of not being notified about projects that could affect them.

In February 2019, Sharon and Dale Ward, who live in British Settlement west of Sackville, were shocked when somebody put survey tape around trees on their lawn.

They had no idea that about a month earlier, on January 23, 2019, Bowser Construction of Sackville had received approval from the Southeast Planning Review and Adjustment Committee to establish a rock quarry only a few hundred metres from their home.

The company planned to use a narrow right-of-way about 35 feet from their house as an access road for big trucks hauling rocks from the quarry in an area where residents have complained for years about blasting at existing quarries damaging their homes and wells.

Ward said that when she telephoned the Regional Service Commission, she was told authorities had no obligation to notify her because her home would be more than 100 metres from the quarry.

“When I asked for information and tried to explain that we were right next to the right-of-way, I was informed that it was none of my concern,” Ward said, adding she was told that if she didn’t agree, she should hire a lawyer and launch a civil suit.

The Wards did start legal action and are now waiting for a court date.

To read more about their story, click here and here.

Change to Municipal Plan

Bickford says Sackville Town Council could consider changing the 100-metre notification rule when it reviews its Municipal Plan in the coming year.

“But,” she cautioned, “I would always say that you have to make sure that your process is always consistent.”

Posted in Town of Sackville, Westcock | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Sackville Town Council clears way for controversial abattoir on Crescent St.

Council has rezoned eastern half of the building on the right to permit operation of an abattoir at 72 Crescent St.

Sackville Town Council gave final approval Monday night to bylaw changes that would permit a small-scale slaughterhouse at 72 Crescent Street in the industrial park.

At the same time, councillors responded to widespread opposition to the proposed abattoir including a petition signed by 101 Sackville residents that called for more study and consultation before the project moves ahead.

Councillors Bill Evans and Andrew Black read statements justifying their decision to support changes to the zoning bylaw and municipal plan to clear the way for the abattoir while Councillor Michael Tower spoke against permitting a slaughterhouse within a few hundred metres of homes.

Low risk

Councillor Bill Evans

Councillor Evans acknowledged residents’ concerns about the possible effects of smells and noise on property values and the quality of life in Sackville.

“I understand these concerns and I understand the fear that comes with this uncertainty, but my task is to calmly and rationally evaluate the probability of this happening and I’ve concluded that the probability is low,” he said.

Evans argued it would be in no one’s interest to operate a smelly, unpleasant abattoir since the developer, Chris Pierce wants to attract customers to a butcher shop on the site and in any case, would have to abide by government regulations and a municipal development agreement designed to control smells and noise.

He added that his investigation of larger abattoirs in Memramcook and Sussex led him to conclude that both are “attractive operations in attractive neighbourhoods” and that it would be unfair to refuse to allow someone to establish a similar, legitimate business in Sackville because of the possibility that something could go wrong.

“We don’t prevent people from building homes because they might become crack houses or prevent people from opening a restaurant because it might serve tainted food,” Evans said. “I believe that there is a very small probability that there will be problems and a high probability that it will be like other abattoirs which operate satisfactorily.”

Evans questioned whether Sackville residents would really think he would knowingly support a project that would be bad for the town.

“I expect that in the future, people will wonder what all this fuss was about,” he concluded. “What I have to do is what’s right, even if it’s unpopular.”

To read Evans’s complete statement, click here.

Tower opposes

Councillor Michael Tower

Councillor Tower said that while having an abattoir in Sackville could be a good idea, he’s against its location within a few hundred metres of homes.

He said abattoirs in Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec are required to be at least 500 metres from residences because of smells and flies and he criticized Evans’s statement at an earlier council meeting that people opposed to a slaughterhouse in Sackville’s industrial park are guilty of NIMBYism — or “Not in My Backyard Syndrome.”

“I think it shows a lack of respect towards these people,” Tower said. “You say it’s ‘Not in My Backyard,’ but really, we’re putting it in their backyard and it shouldn’t be there.”

He said slaughterhouses belong in rural, not urban areas.

To read Tower’s complete statement, click here.

Abattoir, no sure thing

Councillor Andrew Black said he had received many e-mails opposed to be abattoir as well as ones in favour.

He added that provincial regulations provide a “heavy blanket of oversight” that should alleviate concerns.

“Smells, noises, disposal of remains, cleanliness, animal control and ethical treatment will all be taken care of,” Black said, adding that the municipal development agreement the developer must sign would allow the town to shut the operation down if its terms are violated.

He also argued that the operation is far from a sure thing as the developer will have to do an immense amount of work completing applications, conducting studies and paying fees.

Councillor Andrew Black

“That’s just the start,” Black said.

“After that Mr. Pierce will have to look hard at whether a small abattoir entirely situated inside this building will be commercially viable; whether the space inside is enough to do the work required; whether the margins lost on following the stringent rules on disposal will undercut the profits made and keep the retail price competitive; how bringing the animals inside immediately to a holding pen rather than a calming area before slaughter will affect meat quality.”

Black also said that while he personally would like to see the abattoir in an agricultural zone, the rezoning application was for the industrial park in an area where cattle grazed as recently as three years ago.

“In fact, Sackville is a rural community and is celebrated for being so,” he said.

“This is a part of our town and if you have any doubt, go outside when the wind is blowing right and the smell of the manure spread on the fields outside and inside our town will be noticeable.”

To read Councillor Black’s complete statement, click here.

In the end, all of the necessary changes to the zoning bylaw and municipal plan to permit the abattoir were supported by Councillors Evans, Black, Allison Butcher and Shawn Mesheau.

Councillor Bruce Phinney who voted against first reading during the December meeting missed last night’s meeting because he was at home self-isolating after travelling outside the province.

Posted in Town of Sackville | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

LSD leaders resign over province’s refusal to enforce blasting regulations in Westcock/British Settlement

Water from a resident’s well on Green Rd. after blasting last October

Five local leaders in the Westcock, British Settlement area have resigned their elected positions over the provincial government’s failure to regulate rock blasting near rural homes.

“The issues in our area have been ongoing for years,” writes Roger Gouchie, Chair of the Sackville Parish LSD-Advisory Committee in a letter addressed to provincial officials including Premier Higgs and Local Government Minister Daniel Allain.

“An issue is the blasting that damages properties, wells and water quality, property values as well as safety,” Gouchie’s letter adds. “Regulations are not enforced and this type of operation is not compatible to residential areas.”

The letter says that Cheryl Ward, Jackie Johnson, Natalie Donaher and Phillip Sears are also resigning from the Local Service District Advisory Committee.

“Rural areas are discriminated against and municipalities are favoured, many things are done in secret and regulations are designed to benefit corporations and put residents on the defence,” Gouchie writes. “Our government officials do not seem to care.”

To read the letter, click here.

Last straw

During a telephone interview, Gouchie said that the provincial response to complaints about blasting last October was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

“People were upset again as usual and one lady took a picture of her water right after the blast and it was brown, like swamp water,” he added.

Gouchie says that he sent the photo to an official in the environment department pointing out that water quality problems have been happening repeatedly after blasting and that regulations are supposed to protect residents’ wells.

He adds that the response from the province made him realize that serving on the LSD Advisory Committee was futile:Soil from Sackville

Gouchie’s letter of resignation also refers to the dumping of potentially contaminated soil from Sackville’s Lorne Street flood control project on a property on Rte. 935.

Cheryl Ward addresses a community meeting at St. Ann’s Church in 2019

Cheryl Ward, who is also resigning from the LSD advisory committee, says that the provincial environment department refused to test the soil.

“One representative came, looked and said, ‘It looks OK to me’ and walked away,” she adds.

“People in rural communities need to be treated just like everybody else. If we have a problem, if it is causing health issues, causing economic strain due to say, blasting and having to do home repairs, somebody needs to care about that.”

During a community meeting in March 2019, local residents packed St. Ann’s Church to hear about plans for another quarry in the area put forward by Bowser Construction of Sackville.

Sharon Ward and her husband Dale are trying to block the use of a narrow access road to the proposed quarry that is only 25-35 feet from their home at 221 British Settlement Road, but the COVID-19 pandemic has led to delays.

“We’re still waiting for a court date,” she says.

To read coverage of the 2019 meeting, click here.

For coverage of Megan Mitton’s statement in the provincial legislature, click here.

For more background on this story, click here.

Posted in Environment, quarry | Tagged | 1 Comment

Former mayor urges Sackville Town Council to halt abattoir approval

Former Mayor Pat Estabrooks addressing Town Council in 2017

Former Mayor Pat Estabrooks is calling on Sackville Town Council not to approve a controversial rezoning application for a slaughterhouse at 72 Crescent Street until neighbourhood residents have been consulted.

“They didn’t do due diligence,” Estabrooks, who lives nearby, said today during a telephone interview.

“When they [council] got that application, we as neighbours in this area should have been advised,” she added. “We should have received a letter.”

The town and the Southeast Regional Service Commission put notices on their websites before conducting a public hearing on November 9th, but Estabrooks says about 95% of Sackville residents did not know what was happening partly because the town no longer has a weekly paper that prints notices from council.

In December, council gave first reading (preliminary approval) to municipal plan and zoning changes that would allow for an abattoir in an intensive use zone within Sackville’s industrial park.

On Monday, council is expected to vote on second and third readings that could give the changes final approval, but Estabrooks says that should not happen until residents on Crescent Street, Beal Heights and Charles Street have had their say.

“They should stop all [further] readings until such time as we’ve had the opportunity to talk to them about this,” Estabrooks emphasizes.

Meantime, Sackville resident Jean-Pascal Lavoie has submitted a written petition to council opposing the location of an abattoir on Crescent Street.

Lavoie says 101 Sackville residents have signed it including 23 who live within 500 metres of the site.

Council has also been receiving messages and letters expressing support for the proposed abattoir.

Posted in Town of Sackville | Tagged , , | 13 Comments

RCMP investigating complaints over treatment of cattle by prominent Sackville farmer

Screen capture from video showing truck and trailer with calf (upper right) tumbling behind it

The RCMP have confirmed they’re conducting an investigation after a 600 pound calf fell out of a trailer Wednesday in Dorchester and died in front of Deborah Jollimore’s house on Cape Road.

“The cow flew out of the back of the trailer at 12:22 p.m. today and we caught the whole thing on video,” Jollimore said in a telephone interview after posting some of the footage from her home’s security system on the Dorchester Community Concerns Facebook page.

It shows a truck hauling a white trailer passing her house with the calf, owned by Sackville farmer Keith Carter, tumbling behind it on the pavement.

Mark Adams, who lives on Cape Road next to Jollimore’s house, witnessed what happened as the truck and trailer sped by.

“I see the cow fall out and it hit the road and it bounced like twice and it just laid there,” Adams said. He added that after the truck stopped, Keith Carter got out and started moving the animal’s head around and then, pressed his foot against its ribs.

“Then he pulled a knife out and started cutting its throat and I said, ‘What are you doing?’ and he said, ‘I’m bleeding it out.'” Adams said. “He had blood all over the road, it was terrible.”

Photo shows blood on road after Keith Carter cut the calf’s throat to bleed it out

When Deborah Jollimore had trouble getting through to the RCMP, Teena Adams, Mark’s wife, drove to the Sackville detachment to report the incident and the Mounties despatched Cst. Éric Nolet to begin an investigation which the force says is ongoing.

Jollimore says she’s complained to the police repeatedly that Carter habitually exceeds the 50 kmh speed limit as he transports his cattle past her home from the 500 acres of pasture he owns in the area.

“This guy, this same guy, the same truck, the same trailer, they speed and they don’t slow down when they go round the corner, they don’t slow down,” she says referring to the intersection of Dorchester Island Road and Cape Road.

“It sounds like a great ruckus coming from the trailer, from inside the trailer, you can hear the cows mooing and screaming when he takes that corner,” she adds. “I’m scared that he’s going to either flip his trailer, which comes around that corner into our house, or he’s going to hit somebody.”

Keith Carter addressing Sackville Town Council in 2019

Carter admits he was at fault for the calf falling out of the trailer.

“I forgot to put a pin in the tail gate. It was just an accident. I didn’t plan on a thousand dollar calf falling out of the back of the truck,” he says, adding that other calves have fallen out in the past with no injuries.

“What this one did is it went out backwards and rolled and broke his neck I figure,” he says. “One woman hollered at me and she said, ‘What are you doing, what are you doing?’ I was jumping on his rib cage and I’ve done that before to some that were choking and you jump on their rib cage, it’s just like doing CPR on you and they start breathing again,” he adds.

But he realized it was no use because the animal was dead.

“So, I just cut its throat and lifted it on (the truck) and brought it home and dressed it up for beef.”

Carter strongly objects to suggestions linking the incident to his nephew Chris Pierce’s controversial proposal to build an abattoir in the Sackville Industrial Park.

“Chris and I work together, so I had his truck hauling cattle today,” Carter says, adding he feels he’s being slandered on Facebook.

“The phone’s been ringing off the hook telling me this and that and everything and I said, ‘Well, it didn’t matter to me, but when they started hauling the abattoir into it, that started pissing me off.'”

Posted in Town of Sackville, Uncategorized | Tagged | 15 Comments

Slaughterhouse developer is full-time, town employee, but acting mayor says that won’t affect council’s decisions on the controversial project

View of the building from Fleet St. Red lines show portion to be used as abattoir.

Acting Mayor Ron Aiken says Chris Pierce’s full-time job in Sackville’s public works department will not affect any decisions on his application to establish a small-scale slaughterhouse in the town’s industrial park.

“The application Mr. Pierce submitted was for him as a private individual, and not for him as an employee,” Aiken wrote in an e-mail Monday to The New Wark Times.

“The application is not connected to his employment status and would have no bearing on any decisions being made on the application,” he added.

Aiken was responding to questions e-mailed to him after CAO Jamie Burke confirmed that Pierce has been employed for 14 years in the town’s Department of Engineering and Public Works. He also raises cattle at his farm on Queens Road in the Frosty Hollow area.

Pierce’s proposal for an abattoir at 72 Crescent Street requires changes to the zoning bylaw and municipal plan that would permit slaughterhouses in a zone for intensive resource use within industrial areas.

In a 4-2 vote, town council gave first reading or preliminary approval to the changes last week with votes on second and third readings expected in January.

If the project is approved next month, Pierce would be required to sign a development agreement with the town that imposes conditions designed to address health, safety and environmental concerns.

When asked which town employees would supervise and enforce the development agreement, Aiken responded that enforcement would be the responsibility of the Southeast Regional Service Commission (SERSC).

“Senior [town] Staff will evaluate the project from an engineering and land use perspective prior to the issuance of a Building and Development Permit, but the enforcement of the agreement is the responsibility of SERSC,” the acting mayor wrote.

In response to a question about a potential conflict of interest with town employees supervising a project undertaken by another town employee, Aiken replied that SERSC, not town employees, would be responsible for compliance.

To read the full text of the questions and answers, click here.

Much remains unknown about the project including the numbers of animals to be killed in the slaughterhouse as well as the volume of trucks needed to transport them there and carry away wastes on a daily basis, but Acting Mayor Aiken said last week that the developer would work those details out after he gains approval from town council for the necessary zoning and municipal plan changes.

“All the questions you’re asking are ones that I don’t think we can know right now,” he added. “We’re just at the initial stages of this and I suspect more information will become available as it moves along.”

To read my report on opposition to the project, click here.

Posted in Town of Sackville | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Sackville may get full-time climate change co-ordinator after all


Kieran Miller addressing council on Monday

Sackville town staff have applied for a $63,500 provincial grant to hire a full-time climate-change co-ordinator for two years.

“The idea is to pilot the position to test its value and effectiveness,” Kieran Miller, the new senior manager of corporate projects told town council during its regular meeting on Monday.

She said that if the grant application is successful, the money would come from New Brunswick’s Environmental Trust Fund which supports projects that protect, preserve and improve the natural environment.

Last August, the Mayor’s Roundtable on Climate Change suggested that the town contribute $25,000 a year toward hiring a full-time co-ordinator to help it pursue its priorities, but town council decided to set aside $35,000 instead for other climate change projects including hiring a student for 18 weeks next summer.

Miller cautioned council on Monday that the $63,500 grant is not a sure thing, but if it does come through next spring, the town would be able to hire a co-ordinator to work with the Roundtable and to help implement the town’s long-term plan to adapt to climate change.

She said the town and the non-profit, environmental group EOS Eco-Energy would jointly manage the co-ordinator position and assess its value.

“It’s a really great opportunity to use some funding to test the position,” Miller said during an interview later in which CAO Jamie Burke also took part.

“It’s a really exciting opportunity, there’s no guarantees, but in the event we do have a successful application, it’s going to be an exciting pilot project,” Burke said.

In August, Roundtable spokesman Richard Elliot said the co-ordinator could help in a variety of ways including developing links with other municipalities, revising the climate change “lens” used to advise the town on its spending as well as developing training for new councillors.

Burke said the co-ordinator could handle communications and organizing events around climate change week or assisting with any changes to the town’s recycling program.

He said the co-ordinator could also help if the town needs to revise its application for the federal-provincial funding needed to complete the Lorne Street flood control project.

The town’s initial application for Phase III was turned down because the province was placing more emphasis on clean water projects, but Burke says Sackville is still intent on building an additional retention pond behind the community gardens and draining the storm water across the industrial park to an aboiteau near the town’s main sewage lagoons.

It’s estimated the total cost of Phase III would be $4.6 million with the town’s share ranging from $1.24 to $1.52 million.

Posted in Environment, Town of Sackville | Tagged , | 3 Comments

In 4-2 vote, Sackville Town Council gives preliminary approval to controversial slaughterhouse

Councillor Bill Evans read statement supporting proposed abattoir

Sackville Town Council took the first step tonight in approving a small-scale slaughterhouse at 72 Crescent Street.

In a split 4-2 vote, a majority of councillors voted to give first reading (preliminary approval) to municipal plan and zoning changes that would allow for an abattoir in an intensive use zone within Sackville’s industrial park.

Councillors Shawn Mesheau, Bill Evans, Andrew Black and Allison Butcher voted in favour of proceeding to the next stage in January while Councillors Michael Tower and Bruce Phinney voted against.

However, instead of giving the customary first and second readings to the necessary changes, council also approved Shawn Mesheau’s proposal to delay second reading until next month to allow him more time to gather additional information.

Councillor Evans read a lengthy statement in which he acknowledged the dozens of objections councillors received to the proposed slaughterhouse, but added that council needed to make decisions in the interests of the entire municipality.

“While dozens of messages, and all of them against something, is significant,” he said, “we need to be aware that it represents less than one per cent of our constituents.”

Evans said that although it’s important to preserve the quality of life in Sackville, it’s also important to consider the importance of business and economic development.

“I myself have said that I consider Sackville to be open for business,” he said. “What that means for me is that my initial response is positive when people say they want to start or expand a business in Sackville. Business development can mean more jobs, more tax revenue and add to the vitality of our town.”

Evans suggested that people’s legitimate concerns about smells, noises, potential contamination of soil, water or the town’s sewage system can be addressed through a development agreement with the local farmer who wants to build the slaughterhouse.

He also referred to the many health regulations that would govern its operation.

To read Evans’s statement, click here.

Councillor Allison Butcher said she agreed with everything in Evans’s statement.

Councillor Shawn Mesheau wondered about more consultations

Councillor Mesheau wondered whether there could be more consultations with residents in the area.

“Does the opportunity exist to engage citizens further within the buffering areas — Charles Street, Beal Heights, St. James, those areas — between the planning commission and maybe the developer and possibly the licensing folks to get a better opportunity to get more information and be better informed on this as a council?” Mesheau asked.

Acting Mayor Ron Aiken responded that he personally felt there had been lots of time for public input.

“We’ve been accepting letters well after the deadline,” he said, “and most of them came in after that point so there’s been some leeway on that one,” he said, adding that additional delays could be unfair to the developer.

Councillor Michael Tower suggested that at least some of the 27 other smaller slaughterhouses in the province had been located in agricultural zones farther away from residential areas.

But town planner Lori Bickford responded that Sackville’s zoning bylaw states explicitly that abattoirs are not considered an agricultural use.

“You would be looking at opening it up to a much larger area of the town,” she added.

Later when I asked during the public question period, why the developer has not given information about the financial scope of the project, the number of animals to be killed, the volume of trucks needed to dispose of slaughterhouse wastes and whether he has found a licensed disposal facility, Acting Mayor Aiken replied that the project is still in its early stages and regulatory arrangements with federal and provincial agencies still have to be worked out.

“All the questions you’re asking are ones that I don’t think we can know right now,” he added. “We’re just at the initial stages of this and I suspect more information will become available as it moves along.”

Lori Bickford added that before the developer works out licensing arrangements with various government agencies, he needs to know first whether town council will support changes to the municipal plan and zoning bylaws that would be needed before he can proceed.

Posted in Town of Sackville | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Sackville Town Council receives slew of objections to proposed slaughterhouse

Photo displayed during council meeting in September shows the proposed abattoir would occupy half of the building at 72 Crescent St. in the Sackville Industrial Park

At its next regular meeting on Monday, Sackville Town Council is expected to discuss the proposal for a small-scale slaughterhouse in the industrial park after receiving 32 letters expressing strong opposition to the project and none in support.

Documents released with Monday’s council agenda show that objections include the abattoir’s proximity to the town; health, safety and environmental concerns; worries about noises and smells; the location of the slaughterhouse in a flood-prone area; lowering of property values; concerns about the number of animals that would be killed there and doubts about the project’s economic viability.

To read a summary of the letters prepared by town staff, click here.

Public hearing

On November 9th, council held a public hearing, but it yielded no information about the cost and financing of the project, the numbers of animals that would be slaughtered or the volume of truck traffic that would be required to transport animals to the site and to haul away their waste products.

Documents attached to Monday’s agenda show that Chris Pierce, the local farmer who wants to build the slaughterhouse, would require part of his property to be re-zoned for intensive use under a specific development agreement intended to give the town more control.

For example, the proposed agreement would require him to remove waste products from the site every day that it operates.

To read the proposed agreement, click here.

Provincial regulations also require abattoir operators to obtain federal permits for the off-site disposal of cattle carcass parts that pose a risk of spreading mad cow disease including the skull, brain, eyes, tonsils and nerves attached to the brain and spinal chord in cattle older than 30 months and a portion of the small intestine from all cattle.

To read the provincial requirements, click here.

There was no information at last month’s public hearing, however, on whether the proponent has found an approved location or licensed disposal site for animal wastes.

Next steps

At Monday’s meeting, council is expected to discuss the changes to Sackville’s municipal plan and zoning bylaw that would be required for the project to proceed.

Lori Bickford, planning manager/planner with the Southeast Regional Service Commission told council last month that the commission’s Planning Review and Adjustment Committee is recommending  Sackville change its municipal plan and zoning bylaw to permit abattoirs in special intensive use zones within industrial areas.

But, given the strong opposition to the project and the lack of basic information about it, it’s possible members of council may ask for more facts before going full-steam ahead, especially with a municipal election only five months away.

To read coverage of last month’s public hearing, click here.

For a story about whether the proposed slaughterhouse is financially feasible, click here.

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