“I don’t think this is right for our municipality,” said Councillor Mario Zanth, during Clarence-Rockland council’s December 7 committee of the whole session.
Several other members of council echoed Zanth’s comment. The main concern of the objectors was the slaughterhouse facility that would be part of the project. The two dominant worries were about the potential smell from a large-scale slaughter operation and also the psychological effect on people working in the facility and exposed to the daily killing and butchering of dozens and dozens of livestock.
The United Counties of Prescott-Russell (UCPR) is pursuing the economic development potential of a regional food hub. The goal is to create a facility to provide local farmers and livestock producers with a close-to-home facility to process their vegetables, fruits, and livestock for delivery to food wholesalers.
The UCPR is seeking a suitable site now for the facility. Both Casselman and The Nation expressed early interest in being the location for the project and for a while Clarence-Rockland had considered whether it might have a possible site that would be suitable. Councillor Sam Cardarelli thinks the city should dismiss altogether being a possible location for the food hub.
“I think we need to do our due diligence,” he said, “and not pass it up until we have all the facts. I don’t want to say ‘No’ right away until I see the whole scope of it.”
Councillor Don Bouchard expressed objection to having the food hub operating in Clarence-Rockland but he did support the idea’s potential for regional employment. “This doesn’t mean that people in Clarence-Rockland cannot work there,” he said.
Councillor Michel Levert expressed concern about the impact the slaughterhouse part of the food hub would have on the local landfill. He noted that Clarence-Rockland’s rural sector has a strong agriculture profile and indicated the city’s future economic development needs to build on that.
“There are other ways that we can attract other types of food businesses here,” he said.
Council voted at the end of the discussion against the city making a bid for the regional food hub. The committee of the whole’s recommendation will come up at the December 21 regular council session for confirmation.