~ Canaan Connexion ~
Sarsfield Hog Farm

~ Updates ~
Sarsfield Hog Farm

Here are some updates on the status of the Sarsfield Hog Farm as provided to the Canaan Connexion from various sources including P.O.R.C. president Marc Lafleur... Protect Our Rural Communities.
Mr. Lafleur is decidedly against the project. To find out more about PORC call Marc Lafleur at (613) 835-2147.
( You are invited to express your views. - C.C. Editor )
Marc Lafleur handing out PORC leaflets at the beginning of the bus tour to Quebec pig farms.

You can also learn more about PORC, read further updates and see several Internet resources by visiting the Orleans Online Website under: PORC.

NEWS Headlines
Court halts construction of hog farm
Sarsfield pig farm on hold

Residents plan hog farm fight

Council votes to appeal Sarsfield pig farm ruling

Hog-farm battle goes to court (CBC News)
Please note: We are in the process of updating this page so some early stories have not yet been added. -pwm/editor
Sarsfield pig farm - building put on hold till February
Sarsfield hog farm opponents suffer another setback
Council creates hog free zone around residential areas
Ottawa to debate proposed Sarsfield hog farm
Sarsfield farm pigs out

NEWS Stories
Court halts construction of hog farm

The owners of a controversial hog farm slated for Ottawa's east end are disappointed with a Tuesday court ruling, but plan to persevere with their case.

Tuesday, a superior court judge ruled in favour of the City of Ottawa, and halted the construction of the large hog farm in Sarsfield. The city had applied for the injunction, arguing that the farm should not go ahead before an appeal — to permanently stop the farm — is decided by the courts.

Hog farm owners will appeal ruling

The lawyer for the farm's owners, Ronald Caza, says his clients are disappointed that Justice Paul Lalonde agreed to halt construction. But he says his clients have a good chance ultimately of winning the case.

"No one has told our clients that they don't have the right to do what they're doing," Caza says. In fact, he says, decisions to date have favoured his clients: "The chief building official gave the building permit because she was of the view that they were legally entitled to do what they're doing," Caza says. "Justice Roy basically denied the city's appeal, and confirmed the building permit because he was satisfied they were allowed to do what they're entitled to do. So every determination that's been made so far, as to what they are entitled to do, they've been successful," Caza says.

The City of Ottawa is appealing the case because it believes the chief building official should take environmental laws into consideration. But Caza says his clients have implemented environmental precautions above what they are required to do. The appeal should be decided in the fall.

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Sarsfield pig farm on hold

Council has valid concerns about environmental damage: judge

By Zev Singer

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

An Ontario Superior Court decision yesterday will keep a factory hog farm out of Sarsfield -- at least for the summer -- because of the potential environmental damage the swine and their manure could cause.

The decision is the latest in the ongoing battle between Quebec hog farmers Mario Côté and Luc Fontaine, who want to put the hog farm into the village in Ottawa's east end, and the city, which has been fighting the farmers every step of the way.

In March, a provincial court ruling had given the farmers the green light to set up a 750-sow operation, but Councillor Phil McNeely, who represents the Sarsfield area, convinced his colleagues on council to appeal the ruling.

The decision yesterday by Justice Paul Lalonde ruled that until the case moves to appeal, the farmers cannot move the hogs onto the property.

"I am satisfied that there is a serious and important issue at stake here," Judge Lalonde wrote in his decision.

He wrote that environmental issues needed to be taken into account, and that the city had valid concerns about potential environmental damage.

"There is still sufficient evidence for me to conclude that potential manure leakage will cause a great deal of harm to the environment," he wrote.

The judge wrote that while assessing the risk is difficult, the only way to know the full effect of environmental damage is to wait for it to happen -- which is not reasonable, he wrote.

"After all, the important consideration of public safety is paramount," Judge Lalonde wrote.

"Bearing in mind the caution from the Walkerton inquiry that when dealing with potential or existing environmental problems, a wait-and- see approach should not be adopted, this court concludes that there is the potential for irreparable and grave environmental harm should the pigs be installed in the property pending the decision of the Divisional Court."

The judge recommended the appeal be expedited "and if at all possible that the hearing take place in 2003."

Mr. McNeely, who has led the charge against the hog farm, said the decision proves he was right to push for an appeal. "I feel vindicated," he said.

Several members of council were critical of the appeal, which will cost the city between $65,000 and $130,000, in addition to the more than $300,000 it has already spent fighting the hog farm.

"We're spending tax money foolishly," Councillor Dwight Eastman said during the debate in April. "Pack it in."

Mr. McNeely, who expects the appeal to be heard by October, said the water quality and air quality, including odour, in Sarsfield are important.

"If your children can't go out and play and you can't go out and barbecue, you've lost some property rights of enjoyment of your property," he said.

Ron Caza, the lawyer representing the hog farmers, said he'll push to have the case heard as quickly as possible.

"The farmers are extremely disappointed," he said of yesterday's decision. "They are not allowed to do something that they think is clear that they're legally allowed to do."

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Residents plan hog farm fight

Neighbours of looming factory farm meet to consider legal options

Pauline Tam

Sunday, May 25, 2003

Residents near a controversial hog farm in Sarsfield should consider suing for trespassing if the plant is allowed to be built.

The idea is the brainchild of a U.S. economist who was instrumental in convincing the City of Ottawa to stop the hog farm from being built.

Bill Weida, an emeritus professor at Colorado College, was in Ottawa yesterday to address a conference organized by opponents of the farm.

The conference took place as a legal battle wages over whether the city has the right to halt construction of the farm.

Mr. Weida told about 100 farmers and concerned residents that under U.S. and Canadian law, owners of large-scale hog farms are infringing on the rights of neighbouring farmers when they routinely dump manure without ensuring that water supplies and air quality in surrounding areas are safeguarded.

"These practices are trespasses because they cause loss of value in property," said Mr. Weida, who has advised dozens of communities in their public campaigns against factory hog farms. "In many cases, the property can no longer be used."

Conference delegates also heard how communities across North America are struggling with the environmental and economic fallout from factory hog farms.

Last year, Mr. Weida was invited to address Ottawa council about the economic damage created by factory hog farms. Among other things, he argued, they destroy rural communities by killing nearby businesses and family farms, leaving virtual ghost towns in their wake.

His testimony prompted council to revoke the farm's building permit. While the move delayed construction, it was later overturned by a judge, who upheld the original permit, allowing the farm's owners to finish the plant. The city is appealing that decision.

Meanwhile, Marc Lafleur, whose family-run dairy backs onto the hog farm, says he hasn't ruled out enlisting his neighbours to file a class- action lawsuit against the farm's owners if construction goes ahead.

"We don't like to sit and wait until the hog farm is a reality, but the way the laws are, that's what we have to do."

The idea also has the support of Cumberland Councillor Phil McNeely, a vocal opponent of the farm.

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Council votes to appeal Sarsfield pig farm ruling

McNeely 'heartened' by decision;
Councillors say appeal could cost $130,000

By Ken Gray

Thursday, April 10, 2003

An emotional Phil McNeely, his voice shaking after winning his biggest vote this term, thanked city council yesterday for backing his motion calling for an appeal of the Sarsfield pig farm court decision.

"I am very heartened that council has supported it by such a wide margin," Mr. McNeely said after the vote. "So now we can get on with the appeal."

By a resounding vote of 14 to 6, council decided to appeal the March 18 court decision that said owners could finish building the farm to house 750 pigs.

The appeal will explore whe-ther those granting a building permit must take into account the use of the structure -- in particular whether the Ontario Water Resources Act, the Fisheries Act and the Environmental Protection Act apply to its use.

"In any other industry, this would apply," said Mr. McNeely, the foremost opponent of the farm. "This is an industry, not a farming issue."

Residents near the rural east-end community of Sarsfield have been fighting the building of the giant pig farm, citing environmental and quality-of-life concerns. In particular, they're worried effluent will create odour problems and pollute groundwater.

During an in-camera session before the vote, the firm of Borden, Ladner, Gervais, retained by the city for the case, expressed optimism the city could win the case. City solicitor Jerald Bellomo was less confident.

West Carleton Councillor Dwight Eastman has said he fears legal costs for the case could reach $1 million. During yesterday's debate, councillors estimated the appeal could cost $65,000 to $130,000.

Mr. McNeely said he would cry if the farm is located in Sarsfield. "Other councillors would cry if they had a farm this size beside them. This is ruining the social and natural environment of Ontario."

Mr. Eastman was the primary opponent of the appeal, saying: "There are a lot of perceived problems with this. This isn't a big operation. Every farmer I've talked to is up in arms. We're spending tax money foolishly. This is silly what we are doing ... pack it in."

But the vast majority of council supported Mr. McNeely.

"If you have to go to the Supreme Court, I'm with you Phil," said Rideau-Rockcliffe Councillor Jacques Legendre.

Construction of the hog farm was stopped last December when the city obtained an injunction invalidating the building permit.

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Hog-farm battle goes to court

The City of Ottawa is in Ontario Superior Court this week trying to overturn a building permit issued by its staff for a factory hog farm proposed for Sarsfield, in the city's east end.

The city says its chief building official made a mistake in October when she issued the permit that would allow the construction of facilities for the 1,045-head hog farm.

Factory hog farms produce large amounts of manure and city council is worried that the farm's owners haven't shown they can protect the area's water resources from contamination. Councillors' distaste for the proposal led them to vote in an interim control bylaw to limit pig farms to 750 head. That's in effect until September 2003, giving Ottawa's chief medical officer of health time to complete a study on the health effects of large hog operations.

For all of council's opposition, it's still the province that controls hog farms, and it won't stop the project. Plus, the Quebec-based company proposing the farm has met all the legal requirements for a building permit. However, the city argues that Arlene Gregoire should have applied its interim bylaw and that she didn't take into account other applicable laws, such as the Environmental Protection Act and the Ontario Water Resources Act.

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Sarsfield pig farm - building put on hold till February

Sarsfield project on hold until court decision
by Jake Rupert
Ottawa Citizen

A judge yesterday ordered construction at a proposed pig farm in Sarsfleld stopped until a legal mess surrounding the farm is sorted out at a hearing in February.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Albert Roy made the decision after lawyers for the City of Ottawa brought a motion asking for the order earlier this week.
Jane Bachynski, who is handling the case for the city, said the motion was brought forward after municipal officials found out the farm’s owners were already renovating a cattle barn to house pigs despite the court challenge.
Lawyers for the farm, owned by Mario Côte and Luc Fontaine, said their clients were planning to have 300 pigs by February and argued vehemently against the order because they have a valid construction permit.
But Judge Roy found the order was necessary due to the potential risk the farm represented.
“I have before me allegations and evidence of serious concerns in the areas of construction, environmental and heath issues,” he said in his written ruling.

The situation has been developing since the farmers applied in July 2001 to the city to get a permit to convert a 209-head cattle farm into a large-scale pork operation. At first, they wanted a 2,800-pig farm, but the city refused on the grounds that livestock operations that size are bad for human health, with manure they generate contaminates air and water.
City council passed an interim control bylaw — a temporary ban on any pig farm larger than 750 — that will last until September 2003. The delay will give Dr. Robert Cushman, the city’s
medical officer of health, enough time to study the issue and present a report.
But by September of this year, pressure was mounting from the farmer’s lawyers to issue a permit for a smaller, 1,050-plg operation — because there was no legal reason not to. So Arlene Gregoire, the city’s chief building officer, let it be known the permit was going to be issued.
With cries of opposition from constituents, Councillor Phil McNeely, who represents Sarsfield, objected even to the smaller operation on the grounds that it short-circuits Dr. Cushman’s study. Still, Ms. Grégoire planned to issue the permit.
City politicians told her not to, but she did anyway because, in her opinion, there was no reason not to.
A week later, the city filed a lawsuit asking a judge to reverse Ms. Grégoire’s decision..

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Sarsfield hog farm opponents suffer another setback
(Posted 7:30 a.m., Dec. 9)
By Fred Sherwin

Opponents of the massive hog factory planned near Sarsfield are quickly losing hope in the battle to prevent the operation from going ahead after suffering yet another setback this past week.

After the owners of the planned hog factory were issued a building permit in October, area residents had pinned their hopes on the city successfully gaining an injunction to prevent construction from going ahead. The case was supposed to be heard in Ontario Superior Court on Friday, but the proceedings were put off until February in order to give lawyers representing the owners time to go over all the evidence submitted by the city.

While the lawyers were filing for an adjournment, however, at least three cement trucks were busy pouring a concrete slab in one of the buildings on the Lafleur Road farm.

According to neighbour Marc Lafleur, the trucks made their delivery late Thursday afternoon.

Lafleur is now resigned to the probability that the hog factory will be up and running before the case is heard.

Lafleur’s sentiments are shared by Cumberland Coun. Phil McNeely who has led the fight to try and block the hog factory.

“By the time it gets to court it’s going to be a fait d’accompli. They have a building permit. They’re going to go ahead with construction. By the time we get to argue our case for an injunction the pigs will all ready be on the farm,” says McNeely.

That’s not exactly good news for a community that faces losing its only school. The French Catholic school board has announced plans to close Saint-Hugues at the end of the current school year.

The school’s closure combined with the impending hog farm is having a downward effect on property values in and around Sarsfield.

Past studies in other communities where hog factories have located have indicated property values can decrease by as much as 25 per cent.

Dwindling property values aside, Lafleur is more worried about the future viability of the community he grew up in and the fact that young families are not likely to move into an area with a hog farm and no school.

“It doesn’t look good for Sarsfield,” says Lafleur.

Meanwhile there is news that the same company which plans to set up the hog factory near Sarsfield, Coté-Paquette, has been making inquiries about a farm near Navan.

The land owned by Gilles Beaudry is located at the southwest corner of McFadden and Frank Kenney Roads about two kilometres from the centre of town and has the Bearbrook Creek running through it.

According to reports the CIBC holds the title on the 700-plus acre farm and plans to put it up for auction in the near future.

The fear is that Coté-Paquette will step in and buy the property and turn it into yet another hog farm.

If they do they will likely have to file a nutrient management plan under the recently passed Nutrient Management Act known as Bill 81.

That may be problematic given the fact that nearly half the farm is flooded for much of the spring from the swollen Bearbrook Creek.

But McNeely points out that the hog factory operators could still use the remaining 350-plus acres to spread their manure and they have the additional ability to enter agreements to have the manure spread on neighbouring fields.

“Bill 81 offers no disincentive whatsoever to these guys. They can put as many hogs in there as they want and call it a ‘normal farming practice’,” says McNeely.
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Council creates hog free zone around residential areas
(Posted Oct. 9)
By Fred Sherwin

Ottawa city council has raised the bar in its fight to keep factory hog farms away from residential communities by creating a three kilometre buffer zone around built up areas such as Sarsfield and Navan.

The buffer zone would not affect existing hog farms which would be allowed to continue operating under a grandfather clause.

The measure was introduced by Cumberland Coun. Phil McNeely and passed without any dissent.

"Hopefully this will send a message out to the big pork producers that we don't want their factory operations within three kilometres of our communities. If somebody else wants them, they can have them," said a jubilant McNeely after Wednesday's council meeting.

The idea of a creating a buffer zone was first raised by McNeely last winter when staff was trying to come up with a Nutrient Management Bylaw to regulate large farming operations within city limits. That process came to an abrupt end in June when the province passed the Nutrient Management Act or Bill 81.

In creating a hog free zone around residential communities, council will likely come under fire from farming interests such as Ontario Pork and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture for singling out pork farms.

McNeely says he fully expects the bylaw will be challenged by a number of groups including the Ministry of Agriculture and Food.

"I expect they will and we'll deal with that when the time comes. For now, as a council, we've decided to take the initiative to protect the best interests of our residents," says McNeely.

While the hog free zone will protect residential communities from new factory hog farm operators coming in and setting up shop, it does nothing to kill the hog farm proposed near Sarsfield.

To deal with that problem, council passed a motion in-camera directing the city's legal department to seek legal advice in advance of filing an injunction against a building permit for the hog operation should one be issued by the chief building officer between now and when the Nutrient Management Act is finalized likely sometime in December.

McNeely say the decision effectively gives legal counsel the green light to fight the province all the way to the Supreme Court of Ontario.

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Ottawa to debate proposed Sarsfield hog farm
(From Cumberland Councillor Phil McNeely, July 9, 2002) The City of Ottawa, in a joint meeting of it's Planning and Development and Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committees, will debate a proposal to deal with nutrient management and the proposed hog farm in Sarsfield.

The meeting will take place Monday July 15, 2002, 10:30 a.m. in the
Council Chambers at 110 Laurier Ave.

Proposed site of Sarsfield hog farm (Photo - Patrick Meikle)

The report will allow the hog farm to open in Sarsfield, will allow it to grow to thousands of pigs, will allow other Hog Factories of this type to open almost anywhere in the rural part of the City.

This must not be allowed to pass through committee and then Council.
I urge all of you to attend the meeting and speak to this issue. Let City
Councillors know that Hog Factories are not an appropriate use of our
agricultural land and should not be near our villages and homes.

Without your support the staff and Provincial position that "Pigs
are good business" will be allowed to carry the day.

Please come out and fight for Sarsfield and all of the east end.
Cumberland Councillor
Phil McNeely

(Please note that this item is being offered for informational purposes and does not necessarily express the views of the Canaan Connexion. - Ed.)
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Sarsfield farm pigs out

MPP Brian Coburn

Cumberland, Thursday, February 28/02 - Several hundred people filled the old Cumberland Town Hall theatre on Thursday evening to hear MPP Brian Coburn explain the concepts of proposed Bill 81, the Nutrient Management Act (NMA).
The meeting was billed as an "information session". A moderator outlined the procedures to be adhered to... a presentation by George Garland, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), outlining the proposed NMA, followed by questions from the floor.

However at one point, Ottawa Councillor, Phil McNeeley, representing the ward where the Sarsfield hog farm is to be located, stood up and demanded that he be given equal time to present the City of Ottawa's position in the matter. His request was granted. Click for more.

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While the information session was being held in the main theatre, members of P.O.R.C. (Protect our Rural Community) were holding a counter-meeting in a room upstairs. This photo shows part of a poster outlinging several rural areas where pig farms would be considered acceptable.
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On Wednesday, February 27, the owner of the proposed Sarsfield hog farm, (Mr. Fontaine, seen on right) offered a tour of Quebec pig farms to anyone interested. This was the scene just prior to the bus departure. Marc Lafleur (in front of bus door) is being interviews by the French CBC Radio and Television media. Lafleur is a member of P.O.R.C. and a neighbouring dairy farmer opposing the hog farm.
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Participating in the tour was Lawyer Ronald Caza, representing the hog farm owners. Caza is a resident of Carlsbad Springs.

Here is another view of the hog farm site, looking west towards Sarsfield, just visible on the horizon. Note the frozen creek in the foreground.
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