Revised plans for abattoir nearly done New cost approaching $3 million

A long-awaited abattoir for Rainy River District is one step closer to becoming a reality now that a formal plan is in the final stages of preparation.
Geoff Gillon, economic developer for the Rainy River Future Development Corp., said last week the revised plans for the processing plant are almost ready for submission to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for final approval.
“We have near-final drawings for the facility,” said Gillon, who was attending the annual meeting of the North Western Ontario Tourism Association (NWOTA) last Thursday.
“With that, we are able to estimate the construction costs,” he added.
Those costs are considerably higher than originally anticipated, however.
Changes to both the objectives of the project, and regulations governing its operation, have escalated the final tab to roughly $3 million.
“It’s more than we originally anticipated,” Gillon admitted.
Because of the higher cost, the RRFDC and other investors are reviewing the marketing strategy and business plan to see if the numbers still fit. In addition, they are prepared to seek additional partners should the situation warrant it.
The abattoir originally was planned to be a modest facility to process mostly locally-produced livestock, thus helping to alleviate the backlog created when the U.S. border was closed to live cattle from Canada following the discover of a single cow with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, in Alberta in May, 2003.
Prior to that, most district cattle were shipped to the U.S. for slaughtering and processing before being redistributed back here.
But with no means these days of processing cattle at an affordable price, district farmers have been forced to hold over cattle that normally would have been replaced by now.
As the abattoir project progressed, it was decided to expand the capacity of the plant to accommodate animals from outside the district and province, as well.
This meant the plant had to be upgraded in order to comply with federal inspection standards—an idea that initially was believed to be too expensive to justify.
However, changes in federal regulations have made it possible to meet the more stringent standards with a minimum of extra cost. Furthermore, the facility now will be bigger, with a maximum capacity of 30 head per day.
“The biggest surprise is there have been so many changes in the [federal] regulations over the past 10 years,” Gillon remarked. “Now we have to get the revised plans together and see if the numbers fit.”
Making the numbers fit inevitably will require additional funding from both Ottawa and the province. Gillon said the RRFDC will be funding the revision to bring local investment up to about one-third of the final cost.
He is hoping the two levels of government each will kick in one-third to meet the balance.

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