LETTER: Still too many unknowns with proposed abattoir

Ahead of Monday’s expected vote on a South Langley slaughterhouse, one writer struggles to be heard.

Dear Editor,

Better safe than sorry.

Or to put it another way “Look (really, really carefully) before you leap”.

I am opposed to the application for an abattoir at 995 224th St.

RELATED: Proposed slaughterhouse in South Langley evokes considerable ireu Letters to Township council, and presentations made at the public hearing, expressing substantial opposition to this application, clearly detailed issues associated with over use of the aquifer, the risk of polluting land, water and air, the negative impact on neighbours – both human and wildlife – and the complete absence of a business plan from the applicant 0802881 B.C.Ltd.

I would like to reinforce those objections by bringing into the discussion a definition of the precautionary principle, which is increasingly codified in Canadian environmental law.

This definition has four central components, all of which are relevant to this application.

The first component I would like to explore states: “take preventive action in the face of uncertainty.” With regard to this application, the “preventive action” would be adhering to Township’s preference for having abattoirs in industrial areas, where services such as water (effectively eliminating the possibility of overusing groundwater) and sewer (controlling the disposal of polluted matter including blood, bacteria, feathers, and cleaning chemicals) better protect our “natural capital.”

The second component is “shift the burden of proof to the proponents,” in this case the applicant.

As the only entity who can gain from this enterprise, the applicant should be required to provide a business case, which clearly shows that this is a viable financial enterprise, interested in and capable of supporting the best in disposal systems, and protecting neighbours from all possible forms of harm.

That this has not been done is… concerning.

Even at that, the applicant cannot prove that its draw on the aquifer underlying its property – a confined aquifer with essentially zero refill – will not impact other wells drawing from the same aquifer, possibly negatively impacting others “right to farm.”

The third component is “explore a wide range of alternatives to possibly harmful actions.” Well the neighbourhood has made a start on this – No abattoir at this site being the preferred one, and endorsing Township’s preference for locating this and other like facilities in an industrial area.

And finally, “increase public participation in decision making.”

According to the rules in the Township, the right to public participation ended with the public hearing.

It was certainly good to have had that opportunity, although notice to the concerned public was minimal, with letters referring to the public hearing being sent only to immediate neighbours (some of whom never received those letters) rather than to all those who could be impacted by increased noise, traffic, lights at night, odours, disposal system failure, and failing water supply.

With what amounted to only four days to prepare a response to the application and to participate at the public hearing, the community response was a resounding “no.”

It still is: NO.

Brent Brocklebank, South Langley

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