Thirteen people took their turn last night telling Township council they were opposed to a new poultry slaughterhouse in South Langley.
During the Township’s last council meeting before April, council heard some public’s reaction to a rezoning application from Garrett Broatch that would allow for a portion (just shy of three acres) of a 40-acre farm at 995 224th St. to be used for an abattoir.
Multiple Langley residents spoke against the processing facility during Monday’s public hearing, listing concerns about traffic, noise, increased vermin, and odours.
But the biggest opposition came from neighbours worried about the impact such a facility would have on neighbouring property values, the aquifer, and the environment.
Most suggested a slaughterhouse belongs in an industrial area, but a staff report received with the application says that an abattoir is prohibited in general industrial areas. Meat processing plants are, however, permitted in heavy industrial zones, planning technician Daniel Graham explained in his report to council.
K. Ballantine spoke of her request two years earlier to rezone her farm for the same purpose, and she noted that request was rejected.
A few other people against it spoke up at the meeting and dozens more wrote to council.
Some cited animal cruelty as a reason to turn down the application, while others were opposed to general consumption of animal products, but most focused their worries on the environment, and specifically the water aquifer.
“I believe that a kill plant would only bring shame to us, more smell, rats, protests and would be detrimental to homeowners in the area,” another opponent argued in a letter, claiming it would bring negative publicity, decrease property values, and hurt tourism.
Eugene Kwan, of Chaberton Estate Winery, wasn’t present. But he raised concerns in writing about “noxious” odours coming into the winery, vineyard, and restaurant.
B. Wray was one of the lone Langley residents not opposing the project, saying he’d not experienced bad odours from other abattoirs.
The farm currently has a single-family home and mobile home on the site, as well as an accessory building they’ve applied to turn into a second residence. There are a number of new poultry barns currently under construction.
The Township of Langley has received inquiries expressing interest in full-cycle processing of livestock on agricultural land, rather than having farmers send their product to an off-site facility and then returned to the farm for packing, Graham noted in his report.
“Staff understand the motivation to establish relatively smaller scale abattoir facilities on a farm unit is due to inability of small independent farms to meet the minimum threshold required by larger facilities which offer the service, resulting in economic challenges for smaller poultry producers,” he added.
There are two properties in the Township currently zoned for processing, one being Britco on Fraser Highway, and the other being a nearby farm in the 1700-block of 224th Street – but neighbours told council the latter hasn’t been operational for about 40 years.
The rezoning request is expected to go to third reading during council’s next regular meeting on April 9.
At the provincial level
This vote comes on the heels of an announcement today by the provincial government that it wants enhance local slaughter capacity throughout the province to ensure more British Columbians are enjoying B.C. beef, pork, lamb, and poultry.
The province is undertaking a consultation process with small abattoirs on how to improve licensing, especially in more rural areas of B.C.