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.

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

  1. Thomas Steep says:

    How does anyone get to workout details for approval of any project after approval is granted? Did I read the Mayors comment above correctly?

    • Wendy Alder says:

      There’s a development agreement that comes into play once rezoning is done. They are in early, early stages of the steps to rezone, etc

    • Mike says:

      I fully agree !

      Any project that requires a zoning change, should be approved before that zoning change. All of the business stuff, environmental stuff, budgeting, and waste disposal information should be readily available, so that questions can be answered. Something is not right with this.

  2. Wendy Alder says:

    I can’t see that someone working for the town in the position that Mr. Pierce is working in creates a conflict of interest. How about the town CAO that also works for Mount A, I would suggest that would be more of a conflict and I believe the argument was that he was doing lectures, not high up at Mount A so no conflict? At least Mr. Pierce makes no decisions with respect to Town business, unlike the CAO who works for Mount A AND makes decisions with respect to business relationships with Mount A. I see no issue with the application, but I’m sure this will blow up further.

  3. Alan Barbour says:

    Interesting response from the deputy Mayor. It’s my understanding that the Southeast Regional Service Commission is a planning organization not an enforcement agency. When it comes to complaints about noise or odour within the municipality those complaints are investigated and enforced by the By-law officer who is by all accounts a town employee.

  4. Kata List Productions says:

    Thanks for your commentary Wendy Alder.

  5. Merrill Fullerton says:

    There are many fundamental questions that should be answered now before the municipality goes too far in this process. What are the projected economic benefits? More specifically, how many jobs will be generated and how will this facility benefit the local agricultural sector? How about food security. Will it help to broaden our local food supply or help make it more secure and affordable? Will there be any additional tax revenues flowing to the municipality as a result of this development? How much annually is forecasted? I could go on …

    Like any industrial development, the community bears all of the risk. Knowing the upside is key. And sometimes the best decision you can make is no decision at all. Take the time to do it right. I applaud Coun. Mesheau for requesting more time to assess and get more information.

  6. MacK says:

    Keep sticking to that story. Sackville runs on patronage like a lot of places.

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