NIMBY applies to Erinsville hog farm objections

A June 25 article in the Napanee Beaver refers to Mark Slack of Slack Family Farm’s failure to get an approval in 2001 to have a hog farm built in Erinsville. The members, including myself, of the Stone Mills Agricultural Committee, rejected that application.

That Committee was formed by the council at the time to confirm that the Township was in compliance by the recently introduced provincial legislation related to Intensive Livestock Operations and Nutrient Management Plans for any new “large” farms applying for permits

This legislation was a direct result of the tragic deaths and multiple hospitalizations in Woodstock Ont. in May 2000. It was ultimately confirmed that these deaths and illnesses resulted from E-coli contamination tied to manure leakage into a municipal well from which Woodstock drew some of its drinking water.

It was in this heated scenario that Mr. Slack submitted his two applications to build a hog farm in Stone Mills. The first was rejected out of hand by Township staff when it was discovered the proposed septic location would be under water during spring run off.

The second was rejected by the Agricultural Committee after much discussion and review of the material provided by the “experts” retained by Mr. Slack and the Township.

The chairman of the Committee at the time expressed to the members that the “expert” retained by Mr. Slack thought he would be dealing with rural people who were “dumb as a bag of hammers”. We indeed were not and applied due diligence in review of all “expert” submissions.

At times we had to remind some residents we were the Agricultural Committee not the Stop Agriculture Committee.

I do not recall the specific reasons for rejection, but they were sound and are public record.

With respect to the current application provincial legislation is different; science of manure handling and storage has significantly improved, and the size and type of operation is different. It is my understanding that Mr. Slack as exceeded all provincial and municipal requirements for the structures and nutrient management related to this new application.

The Township Council cannot reverse its decision to authourize issuance of the building permit. To do so will result in legal action by Mr. Slack and force the Township to defend its decision. A cost ultimately paid for by taxpayers, as the Township will lose.

Mr. Slack has operated another large operation near Tweed for many years with no environmental issues. The only water flow that might be of concern is a small trickle, even in spring. I am certain Mr. Slack should not be applying manure in spring and his manure storage is too far away to reach this minor water flow. As a resident had reported to Fisheries Canada of potential damage to Beaver Lake that Ministry sent a field officer to the site for inspection, I personally walked the land with that officer. He had no concerns then and would have no concerns now

My four decades in the insurance business has taught me that “crap happens” and that the best engineered projects can have future problems. Yet Council, and staff cannot make decisions today on what might happen in the future.

Living 10 km S.W. of the location do I wish that this farm does not go ahead? NIMBY applies.

Albert Mulligan

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