Slaughterhouse coming to West Petpeswick

Even with limited experience, Slaughterhouse approved for Musquodoboit.

Harbour East-Marine Drive Community Council, Dec.16, 2020

Meeting recap (the important stuff): 

Harbour East-Marine Drive Community Council voted to approve an abattoir in West Petpeswick.

Community support for the slaughterhouse was mixed. In the public hearing in 2019 people with agricultural backgrounds were skeptical about the commercial viability of such a small farm. One neighbour from three lots over phoned in to express concern about the amount of manure generated.

But other community members see having the farm as a benefit to their local supply of food, especially as the pandemic highlighted the risks of global supply chains. Matthew Randall, who volunteers on the farm, said that having a small farm like this would also create jobs. 

The applicants, Bianca and Pierre-Luc Sévigny of The French Duck farm, said they’d been well received by the community and have been working to make sure their application met all the required regulations. 

Councillors initially expressed concerns about the Sévigny’s lack of experience in running a farm. They were concerned that if something went wrong there would be limited recourse for their neighbours to get things corrected if they approved things today. 

The other major motion they heard today was about towers going up in Dartmouth, at 325A Prince Albert Road. Even though the city planner recommended rejecting the proposal because it doesn’t fit at all with the surrounding area, Councillor Sam Austin wanted this proposal to go to a public meeting. He requested his fellow councillors indulge this request since the previous public meeting had something he’d never seen at a public meeting before: almost unanimous public approval for a development. 

It’ll have a public meeting and then come back to the community council for a vote.  

They also sent Councillor Purdy as their representative for the Grants Committee.

Who said what (paraphrased): 

Mancini: First up, electing a chair, so Clerk, take it away!

Simon Ross-Siegel (Clerk): (Explains the process for nominating a new chair)

Austin: We had an informal discussion a couple of weeks ago, I just wanted to know if Hendsbee wanted to do it since we haven’t let him do it. 

Mancini: I thought he wanted vice-chair? 

Hendsbee: I’d be pleased to be chair. 

Ross-Siegel: Are you seconding that?

Hendsbee: Can I second my own nomination? 

R-S: Right, no.

Purdy: I’ll second it. 

R-S: (Repeats the call for nomination three times) With no one else nominated, it’s yours. 

Hendsbee: I’m glad I’m not going to be on Santa’s bad list now! Anyways, vice-chair? 

Kent: Austin, did you still want it? 

Austin: I’ve made a mess of things this evening, I think this was supposed to be Mancini’s chair and Hendsbee’s vice-chair. I made a mess of this. 

Hendsbee: Thought Mancini did a full year, I’m willing to do a swap. 

Mancini: I’m fine if you want it. 

Kent: Hendsbee were you chair before? 

Hendsbee: Yeah a long time ago. 

Kent: A long long time ago I’d imagine.

Austin: It might be a good idea to have a new councillor as vice-chair. 

Mancini: I’m also fine with that. I’ll nominate councillor Kent as vice-chair.

Purdy: Seconded.

Hendsbee: Up next, Annual Report. Do we need to do anything about this? 

R-S: Just accept and table it, via motion. 

M/S/C – Vote – Unanimous – Aye

Hendsbee: On to Case 22519, staff presentation, please.

Megan Mond (Planner): It’s for a small farm/abattoir. The zoning allows for some agricultural purposes but limits it to 50 animals and no abattoir. 200 animals and the abattoir are why this application is necessary. The only land use bylaw that allows an abattoir is MU-17 which is for intensive agriculture. Public consultation resulted in feedback, people were concerned about the amount of animals, management of manure, and the water being polluted. But supported having local meat. There are a lot of other regulatory bodies involved, it’s not just the HRM. The HRM’s role is to permit the construction of buildings and compliance with development agreements. The province is the regulator for animal welfare, wells, and surface water, and provides guidelines for manure management. 

Kent: I know concerns have been raised about the size of the buildings and the space available, is this typical to have farms of this size on lands this small? Is it normal? It seems small. 

Mond: My research was inconclusive, there’s no formal rule or rule of thumb. Other land use bylaws can give some guidelines, with manure animal units, which is a measure of nitrogen production per acre available. This site is 6.6 manure units, but that doesn’t really mean much because there are no guidelines for this area. 

Kent: What regulations are in place for the waste management of the slaughterhouse? 

Mond: It’s regulated by the province, the buildings have to be an approved design by the province, and they need to be there when the animals are slaughtered. 

Kent: What’s stopping them from expanding the abattoir?

Mond: The agreement. 

Purdy: Will this abattoir slaughter just their own animals or can others come here to be slaughtered too? 

Mond: The agreement limits the animals that can be processed: domestic fowl and rabbit. Otherwise, it’s up to the province. They could slaughter fowl and rabbits from elsewhere. 

Purdy: What recourse do neighbours have if the odours or offal do significantly harm their quality of life? 

Mond: It would depend on why, if the animals were in distress that’d be the Dept. of Environment. If their manure was an issue then it’d be the city. 

Purdy: 200 fowl, is there any negotiation to decrease that number if the space the animals are given is an issue? 

Mond: Nope, this was the number the applicants brought forward, and I couldn’t find a standard. Any reduction in number I asked for would be arbitrary. It ultimately might not be enough space for the animals, but I don’t have the answer for that. 

Hendsbee: Will there be fencing around the property, the whole property, to contain them? 

Mond: Dept. of Transportation also had this concern, but animals are not allowed to go into the non-disturbance area, so they’d need to be contained as per the development agreement. 

Hendsbee: Up next, the applicants!

Bianca and Pierre-Luc Sévigny (applicants): With regards to the concerns brought up in 2019, we did an environmental farm plan. There was concern about the amount of land per animals, the intensive classification is kind of a formality, ‘intensive’ would be 60,000 chickens per acre. Looking at looking guidelines online the range is 80-400 chickens an acre. Homestead guides say 25-35 pigs/acre. But it’s still a lot of land to absorb the manure. But for horses and goats, the manure would be picked up and composted. We’ll need to be putting manure onto our land because the land isn’t very fertile right now. We’ve also been giving the manure away, we didn’t know there’d be a demand for that. One of the issues that came up was that we didn’t have a background in agriculture so I’ve been taking a part-time degree in agriculture. Our rodent management team is two dogs and two cats. We want to build a farm in our community because we are in a food crisis, we want to move away from large farms and promote small farming. We also have educational opportunities with partner orgs like 4H. We also have community events like goat yoga and a Christmas market. 

Austin: The manure management piece, how do you actually pick up the manure? I’m a city kid. 

Bianca: Pick it up with a wheelbarrow, it’s not a lot of manure. 

Mancini: The one flag that went up for me, is your business model. You’re both doing this part-time and have other careers. If this isn’t your full time gig how will you manage it? 

Bianca: It is full time for me, I have one night a week with the Navy, and the one course online. And we have the work-away program, we’ve had two workers all summer for example. 

Hendsbee: Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal has expressed concern with fencing, do you have a containment plan? Will you contain the chickens and ducks. 

Luc: Horses are fenced, rabbits are penned, and the chickens don’t want to go to the road. If they start going there, we’ll build a fence

Kent: Where do you live? Do you live on the site? 

Luc: We live right beside the farm, it’s a two minute walk up the hill. 

Hendsbee: We have two speakers, Matthew Randall first.

Randall: I’ve been a long term resident of the area, and avid gardener and aspiring farmer. I was happy to hear this was going to be happening. I think it’s something we need in the community. I don’t even think we should be having a debate about whether or not we be supporting a farm in our community. The intensive designation is a formality, the chicken you buy from the grocery store lived in its own excrement. We need to support local jobs on the Eastern Shore. It’s a privilege to have folks in our community that want to step up and make sure we can be feed. During a global pandemic it’s very important, what happens if supply chains get disrupted? Me and my family have been doing volunteer work at the farm, and they do an amazing job managing the farm so far. I think a lot of people in the community are honoured to be helping you all out.

Hendsbee: Mr. Hopkins.

Hopkins: We live close to the farm, we enjoy our neighbours and the community. We support the dreams of this couple. But, I’d like to reiterate concerns from the previous meeting. As our local councillors know, you’re there to represent us. The senior planner mentioned there were no best practices, but there are. Farms are all about poop. There’s a lot of it. There’s about 425 pounds of manure a day, 3000 a week, 12000 a month, and 144,000 per year. At the last meeting, a man with 50 years of farming experience, expressed concerns about the lack of space. 

Hendsbee: It’s a woman. 

Hopkins: What? 

Hendsbee: That farmer is a woman. 

Hopkins: (I missed a chunk) We fully support this endeavour, but we should slow this down and base the animal density decisions on solid information. 

Mancini: Where do you live? How close are you? 

Hopkins: Three lots over. 

Hendsbee: Let’s close the public hearing and put this motion on the floor to debate it. 

Mancini: (Reads motion for agenda item 10.1.1 as written)

Hendsbee: As far as ramping up the farm to its full number of animals? If it’s approved today can they go right up to the amount of animals in the agreement?

Mond: 14 days from this Saturday it could be appealed and then a few weeks to process permits. 

Purdy: I love this idea, and I want to support this, but I’m struggling because of the valid concerns of the community around it. 

Hendsbee: Is there a possibility through the development agreement to do a ramping up time to make sure they can manage and handle the full load of animals and meet compliance? Can we do that? 

Mond: At this point, the agreement isn’t written in that way, they could just have the max animals as soon as it’s signed. I’m not sure how we could do a phased implementation on a development agreement? 

Thea Langille (Rural Planner Lead): Yes, we can, but not at this meeting, we’d have to take it back and rework the development. I don’t see the applicants going 100 per cent on day one, they’d naturally do the phased approach. They’ve invested in this property, and community, I don’t think they’d go max on day one. 

Hendsbee: What requirements do the applicants have to publicly post where they are in the permitting process? 

Mond: None, just displaying a permit if something’s under construction. From an HRM perspective, the agreement says they need to tell the city when they get the permit for the abattoir. 

Hendsbee: I look forward to this development, we’ve learned from Walkerton, so I’m pretty sure water management will be okay.  

M/S/C – Vote – Unanimous – Aye

Hendsbee: Up next, Case 22285, there a presentation? 

Staff: I have one, yes. Twin Lakes Development is looking to build two 12 story residential towers on Prince Albert Road (The NAPA by the Braemar Superstore). There is currently a development agreement for this site for one tower of condos. This application was received before the Centre Plan and so can be grandfathered in under the old policies. Staff is concerned the design doesn’t fit the current area and they’ll make the school next door really windy. Everything around it is two stories or less. What we’re recommending is to refuse this agreement, and refuse the discharge agreement, but extend the deadline so they can come back with a better design. 

Austin: If the applicant wants to split this parcel up, do they need a new agreement for each piece? I’m worried about the trees on the site

Staff: The trees are protected. If the agreement is discharged there’s no protection of the trees, but that’d be a different motion at a different meeting. 

Austin: In discharging an agreement, can we just discharge part of it? 

Staff: Yes.

Austin: I think we should proceed on this, because the last public hearing for this was very supportive, and get to a public meeting to see what the community says before shooting this down. 

Mancini: That small building that’s not touched, what’s in there? 

Staff: Commercial on the bottom floor, residential on the second floor. 

Hendsbee: It’s the office for a guy who owns a bunch of Tim Hortons franchises. 

Mancini: Was there a wind study done? 

Staff: Yes

Mancini: Why is a windy school bad? 

Staff: Wind could jam shut emergency doors. 

Mancini: Is the developer prepared to build?

Staff: I think they’re ready to build what’s approved.

Mancini: What happens if we go to a public hearing? 

Staff: We have this debate again after a public hearing. 

Kent: Where is Attachment C? It’s missing for me. You’re recommending we approve Attachment C, what are you recommending we approve? 

Staff: It’s a time extension. 

Kent: For their first agreement that just expired? 

Staff: Yes. 

Kent: Are we out of order? Do we have a motion on the floor? 

Hendsbee: We are, there’s no motion yet, we got the presentation first. 

Austin: (Reads the motion for agenda item 13.1.1 as written)

Purdy: Austin, you want us to bring this to a public meeting to get the public support for the 12 story towers? 

Austin: Yes. 

Hendsbee: To clarify, you want us to vote down what? 

Austin: Vote down this motion, and move the alternative number one (page 8), to get a public hearing. This area’s just a weird area, one of the main things for me is that the public meeting for this was unusual because people were in support of this project. So I’d like to get a public hearing to get public input so we can fully weigh the pros and cons of this project. 

M/S – Vote – Unanimous – Nay – Does not carry. 

Austin: (Reads motion 1A on page 8)

Hendsbee: When would we get a public hearing? 

Staff: Good question. 

Hendsbee: What would it look like with COVID? 

Staff: Good question. 

M/S/C – Vote – Unanimous – Aye 

*Five minute recess*

Hendsbee: We’re back, Case 22921, do we want a presentation? 

Austin: I don’t think it’s necessary. (Reads motion for agenda item 13.1.2 as written) This used to be Little Nashville, Matadors, it was a strip club for a time, there was an agreement approved, but the zoning was changed, so they changed their plan, and then the Centre Plan came in, and now they don’t need a development agreement at all for what they want to do. So hopefully they’ll fill that hole in the ground. 

M/S/C – Vote – Unanimous – Aye

Hendsbee: Approve the meeting schedule

M/S/C – Vote – Unanimous – Aye

Hendsbee: Appointments to boards and committees.

Kent: I’d like to nominate Councillor Purdy.

M/S/C – Vote – Unanimous – Aye

Hendsbee: Do we have to go In-Camera for the In-Camera stuff or can we do it publicly? 

Clerk: We can do 15.2 in public.

Mancini: (Reads a motion that explains nothing about what the motion is

M/S/C – Vote – Unanimous – Aye

*Meeting goes In-Camera*




Councillor David Hendsbee, Chair (District 2)

Councillor Becky Kent, Vice-Chair (District 3)

Councillor Trish Purdy (District 4)

Councillor Sam Austin (District 5)

Councillor Tony Mancini (District 6)



Previous meeting minutes and current agenda:

Current agenda

Previous meeting

A former Naval Officer turned journalist, Matt Stickland is committed to empowering his community to ensure that everyone has access to the information they need to make their city a better place.

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