Poultry operation said too close for comfort

A proposed 150,000-broiler chicken operation is ruffling feathers at the Town of Blackfalds.

A proposed 150,000-broiler chicken operation is ruffling feathers at the Town of Blackfalds.

The chicken operation is proposed for a site on a quarter section in Lacombe County just over 1.6 km from the southwestern edge of the town.

That is too close for comfort for the town. The site falls within an area already earmarked for future town growth under a joint economic agreement signed with the county to promote development and share tax revenues, said Terry Topolnitsky, planning and development manager.

“We’re looking at that as an area the town has a potential to expand into,” he said.

Topolnitsky said Crystal Poultry Ltd., owned by Joe and Cathy Luyks, was located even closer to the town and became part of the municipality in a 2001 annexation.

The presence of the poultry farm led to numerous complaints about the smell when the wind was blowing in certain directions.

A couple of years ago, the poultry farm land was bought, the operation was closed down. The town built its new RCMP and fire station on part of the site and put the rest of the land up for sale.

Town officials are not pleased to see a similar operation proposed for only a short distance away.

“We dealt with them once already because they were within our boundaries. If we expand into there, then we have to deal with them again within our boundaries,” said Topolnitsky.

“So we’re going to be objecting to it.”

Topolnitsky said there are concerns that smell complaints will once again arise if the operation is approved by the Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB).

Lacombe County was asked to join the town in opposing the poultry application.

However, after discussing the issue last week, county council directed administration to write a letter in support of the Luykses.

County commissioner Terry Hager said the proposal falls outside a 1.6-km setback for confined feeding operations outlined in both municipal and intermunicipal development plans.

The county’s position is that the joint economic agreement is silent on whether a new confined feeding operation is allowed in the area outlined in the pact.

Under a draft area structure plan being developed for the corridor west of Hwy 2, a new confined feeding operation would not be allowed. But that plan has not yet been adopted by council and is unlikely to have a bearing on the application already submitted to the NRCB.

The Luykses could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.