truharvest meats

Residents push back against new Toronto slaughterhouse that kills 1,600 cows a week

A new slaughterhouse has just opened up in downtown Toronto, and residents, officials and animal advocates are not happy about it.

The new TruHarvest meat plant began operations on Monday, with plans to kill 1,600 cows and calves daily on Glen Scarlett Road near Weston Rd. and St. Clair Ave.

The factory sits right behind the busy Stockyards District shops in a building once occupied by Ryding-Regency Meat Packers, which famously had its license suspended due to "non-compliances related to control measures" and knowingly deceiving regulatory authorities amid E.Coli outbreaks.

The plant had long been accused of severe animal cruelty and was the site for countless protests as a result.

It was also known to impact residents with the disturbing sounds and smells that are associated killing live animals and processing their carcasses — things that meat eaters tend to prefer to ignore the reality of — so locals are now understandably concerned about the return of the facility under different ownership.

Politicians, too, have health and safety fears, and are also taking issue with the fact that the public was not consulted before TruHarvest was allowed to open its doors.

"I have received several questions about why information about this was not relayed to the community, and I would like to be clear that this information is news to my office," Ward 5 York South-Weston Councillor Frances Nunziata wrote in a public statement on the topic on Feb. 19.

She added that the City is currently reviewing zoning in the area, but that even if zoning amendments are successful, meat processing plants will continue to be permitted to occupy 70 Glen Scarlett Road consecutively until another type of business takes over.

"I am aware of the concerns from residents about nearby slaughterhouses and meat processing facilities. I have spoken about this multiple times with City Staff, at City Council and at Etobicoke York Community Council, and I have been working on changing the land use permissions in the area," she said, adding that she is "optimistic" about the zoning review.

"This process does not happen overnight and may take a couple of years, but the City is actively working in a direction that accounts for concerns from the local community about nearby land uses. At this time, however, an abattoir remains a permitted use on this private site."

Unfortunately for locals, not only is any potential rezoning likely to take some time, but the licensing for such facilities is granted by the province and not by the City, leaving things quite out of the City's hands.

Nunziata told the CBC last week that she thinks that the opening of the new facility was unfair,  but indicates in her letter that she is "open to working with the community and the other levels of government which hold the key to current and future licensing approvals of this facility."

As residents continue to voice their concerns to members of government, petitions and demonstrations opposing the new slaughterhouse are already in the works, including one that took place at noon today.

Animal rights groups are demanding a withdrawal of the plant's license, among other things, including that the government "stop using taxpayer dollars to subsidize these atrocities."

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