Opposition to new Maple Leaf Foods poultry plant hits hurdle
Activist Rob McNeil looks across Wilton Grove Road at the future home of the Maple Leaf Foods Poultry Facility - a plant he firmly opposes.
“I can see they are preparing the ground for future construction. That plant is going to be massive,” says the Londoner.
Six months ago Maple Leaf announced plans for a $660-million plant in south London. Officials say the site was chosen for the proximity to Highway 401 and because it’s at the 'epicentre' of Maple Leaf Foods independent chicken farmers.
But McNeil is opposed to the plant, saying, “They will poison up to 500,000 chickens per day in gas chambers. We want to see that stopped as we don't believe there has been adequate public consultation.”
Citing environmental concerns of venting those gas chambers, and dumping chemicals into the Thames River, McNeil took his opposition to the Ministry of the Environment.
But two days ago, his appeals (McNeil vs Ontario) were dismissed.
“We appealed the environmental approvals and submitted the required documents. All we wanted was public consultation process, but they said no. It’s not a big surprise with their high-priced lawyers.”
Now he will try the municipal approach. He’s asked to speak at next month’s meeting of the Advisory Committee on the Environment (ACE).
“He sent a letter in to see if he can get delegation status with us,” says ACE committee member Alan Tipping. “Our committee is for all environmental issues. We’ll listen to him, and make our own decisions, where we want to make forward with this.”
McNeil plans to attend Maple Leaf Foods' open house next week, and he and other animal activists have action planned in Toronto on Thursday.
“Just want to bring attention to this,” adds McNeil. “This plant is a nightmare for London.”
They also plan to visit the company’s headquarters and peacefully protest outside the residence of Maple Leaf Foods CEO Michael McCain.