There will not be a pig slaughterhouse on Mill Road after all. After the strong opposition to the project voiced at the Sept. public meeting, council decided to say no to the $35M investment. In an interview with Tempo, Mayor Richard Burcombe said “the project rep- resented about $200,000 in tax revenue every year for the town.” If there is no new revenue coming in, taxes and or the debt may go up.” added the mayor.
At the council meeting, Mayor Burcombe said that the town issued a press release on the possible slaughterhouse in August in order to be transparent with the population. Council’s decision to ask the CPTAQ (Agricultural land protection body) to rule on the project went unnoticed as it was passed in the middle of July. With the election only a few weeks away, “this is political suicide for me” said Burcombe, “but we had to make this public.”
Contrary to what it publicly said, the town decided to pull out of the project before the CPTAQ ruled on its feasibility on agricultural land and before environmental studies were carried out. The full analysis process would have taken at least a year.
Although the promoter did not want to identify himself or explain the details of his project, the town had confirmed that at least 500,000 hogs would have been slaughtered at the facility that could eventually employ up to 70 people and operate seven days a week in a quiet rural part of town. Also, the facility was designed to provide meat exclusively for the export market. Hog farmers could have benefited from the extra activity generated by the abattoir but not the local consumer.
In an email, councillor Lee Patterson wrote “We currently are not able to add the water quantity they would have needed.” He also added “TBL’s current sewer system could not handle the extra waste. So lots of money for taxpayers to upgrade the sewer system and increased annual costs to maintain.” On the extra traffic that would have been generated by the 7-days a week operations: “Let’s not forget that Mill Road is currently in no shape to take extra heavy vehicle traffic.”
For the past two years, TBL did not experience water shortages in the summer season. One of the contributing factors is that the duck farm no longer slaughters birds at its Knowlton facility thus considerably reducing its water consumption. Hog slaughtering would have required a lot more water.