Membership given update on abattoir project

The Rainy River District Regional Abattoir Inc. (RRDRAI) held a general membership meeting last Thursday evening at the Barwick community hall.
President Steve Loshaw welcomed the 32 members and about the same number of interested public to the meeting, which was called to obtain membership approval on two amendments to the constitution.
But before they dealt with constitutional issues, Loshaw and RRDRAI secretary Bill Darby updated everyone on the project.
The abattoir—projected to begin operating in the fall of 2008—will be built on Lot 44E on Roberts Street in Emo, “just behind the fairgrounds.”
Loshaw explained there were three reasons for locating in Emo: municipal water and sewer, three-phase power, and the fact the site is zoned “industrial.”
He noted the Ministry of the Environment is satisfied that the Emo sewage lagoon can accommodate the abattoir.
Applications for funding and for a license to operate a meat plant have been submitted and the committee is expecting to have the business plan completed by the end of January.
An environmental assessment at the site is complete except for the public consultations, which will begin shortly.
“The abattoir will operate to provincial standards, but is being built so that it can easily be converted to operate federally if there is an advantage to inter-provincial trade down the road,” said Loshaw.
“It will have an area of 3,400 square feet and a capacity of 2,000 head per year,” he added.
The committee looked at Cloverleaf’s geothermal energy design and was impressed with how well it is working, so it has decided to install a similar system.
Loshaw speculated this could present an opportunity for a greenhouse business.
The first amendment to the constitution, which received unanimous approval, provides for directors to be “elected for an expressly stated term.”
It was made to ensure continuity by having directors serve three-year terms.
The second amendment, which garnered just a single opposing vote, provides for non-voting memberships. This proposal was designed to recognize and accommodate the diversity of the Rainy River District farm community.
“Some members of our community, for moral reasons, do not wish to vote and we respect that,” said Darby.
The RRDRAI recently sold its 100th membership. It’s expected the constitutional change will result in a substantial increase in membership.
At $500, non-voting memberships will cost the same as voting memberships, and also will allow holders to purchase animal commitments.
Those who purchase animal commitments will have priority with booking slaughter dates and will pay lower fees. They will be obligated to fulfill their commitments.
The fee for each animal commitment is $100 (to a maximum of $2,000). They must be purchased by March 31.
“Animal commitments are important,” said RRDRAI vice-president Trish Neilson. “We need to know that we have animals to kill, but membership and animal commitment fees alone will not build the abattoir.”
The RRDRAI needs to come up with the $250,000 local component of the cost of building the facility in order to access federal and provincial funding sources.
“The Township of Emo helped tremendously when they contributed $50,000 worth of land,” noted Neilson. “We need all corners of our community to pull together.”
The group’s annual general meeting is slated for Monday, Feb. 11 in the Barwick community hall.
“We will be unveiling the business plan and presenting a visual concept of the building design at the annual meeting,” Neilson said.
“It isn’t just for members,” she stressed. “We want the public to come out, as well. The abattoir is about local food.
“If people want to eat local, they need to invest in their community,” said Neilson. “We want to show them how they can do that.”
“We are also working on getting a couple of exciting speakers in for the annual meeting,” Loshaw said.