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.
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.
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.
“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.