Decades ago, just about every rural community had a butcher shop and an abattoir.
But as regulations became more stringent, many of them had to shut their doors, and today, the wait to get meat processed at the remaining abattoirs can stretch to months, said Red Deer County Mayor Jim Wood.
“They’re so busy,” said Wood on Tuesday. “That just shows there is this need.
“It’s really hard to get any kind of animal slaughtered in Alberta.”
In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the county’s municipal planning commission conditionally approved an application by Mohammad Zakari, of Zaf Resources Canada Ltd., to convert an existing agriculture building into an abattoir on a rural property five kilometres east of Innisfail.
It’s a facility that is badly needed, said members of county council, who also serve as the planning commission.
A growing enthusiasm among people to find locally sourced food that is produced and processed in the area requires more capacity to meet demand.
“It’s a benefit to our food security and food availability that we have more abattoirs in our communities,” said Wood.
It also provides an opportunity to add value to products locally, rather than transporting animals elsewhere to be processed, he added.
Concern was voiced in a letter from an area landowner that the abattoir may give off odours.
However, planning commission members noted the facility will be federally regulated and required to meet the government’s stringent rules.
To further emphasize that point, the commission included an additional condition, on top of the 16 already included, that the disposal of animal carcasses must comply with all federal regulations.
The county will not issue its permit until all necessary federal permits have been approved.
“I am very much in support of local economies,” said Coun. Jean Bota. “I’m in favour of (the application). I believe due diligence has been done.”
Coun. Connie Huelsman said the facility is needed and will be good for the rural economy.
“We live in the country. I know how hard it is to get anything butchered.”
Coun. Dana Depalme said she lives near an abattoir and the facility gives off no smell.