A poultry slaughterhouse proposal in south Langley received a stern response from Township council.
At the April 9 meeting, council unanimously rejected third reading of Garrett Broatch’s application to rezone 2.96 acres of his 39.5 acre property at 995 224 St. to facilitate an abattoir and several new barns. Coun. Charlie Fox was absent.
There was an outcry from many neighbours at a public hearing on March 19, who claimed the abattoir could draw thousands of litres of water from the aquifer each week, and create a risk for water contamination.
“The size of this operation is far exceeding what should be on land that’s above an aquifer. In my opinion it should be in an industrial section, so I won’t be supporting it,” said Coun. Bob Long.
“I feel like there was just a litany of problems with having this in the ALR, and particularly for me, the lack of business plan and a scope of what they are planning is — I just don’t understand how … we could be supportive of it without any kind of knowledge about what that would look like in the community,” Coun. Petrina Aranson added.
Coun. Angie Quaale said she is concerned that the Ministry of Agriculture could override council’s decision under ‘Right to Farm’ legislation.
“This application is apparently in compliance with the Ministry of Ag standards, but it is very clear to me that it doesn’t meet the standards of the community,” she said.
“This could still happen without our consent so that causes me tremendous concern.”
As a farmer, Coun David Davis said he’s surprised the application even got before council.
“As a Township, we have always recognized the value of groundwater. A very large per cent of our groundwater comes from wells, and it’s all about the water,” Davis said.
“You can bring up the ‘Right to Farm,’ but all the existing farms around 995 224 St. also have the right to farm. They also have the right to safe, clean drinking water, safe bath time, and to safely provide water for their livestocks or crops. The right to farm means to me actively farming with all normal farm practices — sights, smells, and sounds. Processing is not the same as farming. Processing requires large amounts of power, hydro truck access, water and proper facilities to compost and to render the byproducts of the chickens. This is not what farmland is intended for. Processing is an industry, this belongs in an industry park.
“Even the chance of contamination of the aquifer is too much of a gamble for anyone to take … If we allow this application, and the groundwater is eventually contaminated … we can’t fix it. It cannot be fixed,” Davis said.
Both Coun. Kim Richter and Blair Whitmarsh praised Davis for his comments.
“One size doesn’t fit all. I’m sorry, it shouldn’t be one size for farming in all of the Township. That’s just not right and it’s just not fair. And it’s particularly not fair when one farmer can push other farmers out of business, because either there’s no water, or their crops are damaged, or whatever other reason,” Richter said.
“This doesn’t belong here and I certainly won’t be supporting it,” Whitmarsh agreed.
Mayor Jack Froese said that a motion for an abattoir in Surrey recently came across their desks at Metro Vancouver. The application called for an extension of the sewer as part of the abattoir expansion, and it was subsequently approved.
“This is a little bit different, there is no sewer in that area. The concern that we’ve heard is the groundwater, and it’s the wastewater that would be produced by this facility. And certainly that’s one of the main concerns that I have,” Froese said.
“So the land use in that area without the proper servicing — and it might be a long time before the servicing gets there — is one of the reasons I won’t be supporting this.”
A large crowd had gathered in Township chambers to hear the outcome of third reading, and they applauded council when the application was defeated.