Island Community Abattoir on track for January construction

Betty Bardswich

The Recorder

PROVIDENCE BAY—The third annual general meeting of the Manitoulin Island Community Abattoir (MICA) was held December 1 at the Centennial Hall in Providence Bay.

The meeting, attended by about 30 people, was called to order by chair Birgit Martin.

With the adoption of the minutes and the financial report of the second annual meeting, this assembly focused on elections for vacant positions and the actual progress concerning the abattoir.

Esther Spadzinski, FedNor representative, oversaw the elections by members in good standing, in which John Anstice was re-elected as vice president of the Board and Marca Williamson as secretary-treasurer. Directors include Ken Hayden, Rob Pennie and Jim Gilpin.

John Foster, Community Development Officer for LAMBAC, showed the overhead design of the new abattoir while Ms. Martin explained exactly what the building will look like and the process that will take place as the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) has many regulations on how cattle and other livestock should be handled.

The abattoir was originally slated to be strictly what is known as a “kill and chill” operation, but OMAFRA suggested a longer stay and thus the building will have a second cooler for any backup from processors. These drip coolers and holding coolers will hold 15 cattle and will be situated on the north side of the building so as to not waste energy.

The Island abattoir sits on 10 acres of land at Monument Road in the township of Central Manitoulin. The building will be rectangular in shape and will be 42 feet by 100 feet with a low-pitched roof. It is a steel pre-fab building and will have a vestibule on one side. The receiving door will be such that any length of trailer can back up to it. The plan, if all goes well, is to install a 10-kilowatt solar system on the roof of the new structure which will offset energy costs and bring in extra monies. There will be a garage on site to house a tractor and other articles as there has to be an on-site compost installed along with the abattoir. This is to handle both clean offal, which may be available to the public as compost and specific risk material (SRM) such as eyes, brains, and spinal cords which have to stay on location forever as scientists believe infectious agents of mad cow disease reside in these areas.

The concrete work for the abattoir is slated for December with the steel delivered and construction of the building itself beginning in January 2012 and the slab floor poured in late February or early March. It is anticipated that the building will open in early May, depending on approval of the septic system in the spring.

MICA will purchase the retail store Papa’s Meats at the end of December of this year with owner Jim McCormick staying on for several months to instruct abattoir and meat shop employees who will work at both sites. By March of 2013, MICA hopes to have renovations done at the retail store location to bring it up to OMAFRA standards from the current health unit inspection rules. The retail store will operate as a completely separate business from the abattoir and will be a for-profit business. A call will go out shortly for a general manager and second employee for the retail store and the abattoir. These two new employees will need marketing, sales and meat-cutting skills between the two of them. As Mr. Foster pointed out, these employees can have a substantial interest in the business as they can buy shares, with MICA maintaining controlling interest with 51 percent ownership.

It has seemed to be a complicated process to secure a new abattoir for Manitoulin, involving applications for funding, business plans, environmental assessments, feasibility studies, and endless meetings, but the result will well be worth the efforts of all the partners and will ensure the sustainability of local beef, hog and lamb farms.