Proposed London slaughterhouse stirs up opposition

A new family restaurant in London’s southwest fears a slaughterhouse in the neighbourhood will drive away customers.

Muayad Abualhayja has asked the city to approve a halal abattoir at 8076 Longwoods Rd., a controversial application that has drawn support from the city’s Muslim community and opposition from area residents worried about the impact it will have on the area just west of Lambeth.

“We are concerned about the smell, since we have a patio,” said Aniko Komaromi, manager of the eatery she declined to identify.

The restaurant opened in November and added a patio this season, but when the wind blows, customers cannot sit outside.

“People want to sit on the patio and can’t. We have noticed a smell in the restaurant, too,” she added.

Komaromi’s concerns echo those of a long list of letter writers included in a staff report going to the city’s planning and environment committee Monday. City staff recommend supporting the zoning change allowing the farm to become an abattoir, despite the area drawing more residential buildings in recent years, say opponents.

“This has already impacted us, depending on which way the wind is blowing. The stench we get here is terrible,” said Norma Crouch, who lives on Longwoods Road.

“We can’t stay in the yard. There have been a lot of new, large homes in the area and I can’t see this will help at all. No one wants this. I don’t know where councillors’ heads are at.”

The committee also received a link to an online petition urging it not be allowed that gathered 1,100 signatures. Along with smell, worries about noise, traffic and property values were expressed by residents.

“The proposed abattoir and livestock facility are appropriate land uses within the agricultural designation, and are consistent with the contemplated uses within prime agricultural areas,” states the city staff report.

Although zoning now allows only a single home, farm animals have been kept on site and the owner faces a bylaw charge with a court appearance scheduled for Aug. 14, stated city staff.

Neighbours also have complained there have been dead animals on the property, along with live animals.

The Muslim community argues it needs the abattoir, as the population of more than 30,000 requires another slaughterhouse to provide food. The community is served now by one in Mt. Brydges, as well as Toronto-area abattoirs.

“The community needs this, the support is huge. There are thousands supporting it,” said Rashad Temraz, a friend of Abualhayja, the abbattoir owner.

”This is not just for Muslims, but Jews and Christians too.”

He also questioned why residents have not opposed a chicken farm in the area.

The smell from the farm is from animals on site and if an abattoir is approved, it will have rules and standards that may improve the smell, said Sonia Wise, city planner.

The abattoir approval would need a nutrient management system to cope with the manure smell. The slaughterhouse would come under the jurisdiction of Ontario’s Food Safety and Quality Act.

“That is where tools we have proposed come in that will look at odour-causing concerns,” said Wise. The act covers “the whole facility,” including how bones, carcasses and manure from the animals are dealt with.

“The overarching policy direction for this is agricultural in nature. There are alternative uses present, but the underlying is still agriculture,” said Wise.

Among the regulations set out in the city staff report, there are maintenance standards for farms, including the requirement to dispose of deadstock within 48 hours.

“The recommended actions combined will provide adequate opportunity to ensure that the livestock operation is maintained appropriately,” states the report.

A community meeting was held on June 29 for neighbours and about 30 persons attended, as did city staff and politicians.

“The comments articulated at the meeting largely echoed those expressed at the public participation meeting, including concerns about flies, odours, deadstock, traffic and property values. These comments have been considered,” stated the staff report.

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