ARTHUR ‒ A longstanding chicken processing plant just outside Arthur is expanding to accommodate new packaging and processing facilities.
Speaking at a Wellington North public meeting Tuesday evening, the owners of Wellington Poultry, Tony, Sherry, Adam, and Shamir Aziz, explained that the expansion will largely focus on allowing the business to grow in what they provide.
Located on a subject property at 7514 Wellington Road 109, off Wellington Rd 109, the proposal asked council permission to double the current facility from one acre to two acres in size. It would be a small part of an adjoining agricultural parcel of 85.99 acres.
“Currently, within the existing facility, there’s absolutely no room for packaging. So while there will be a small increase in terms of the number of birds coming in, that won’t be substantial,” said Tony Aziz, during the meeting. “A big part of what we’re trying to achieve here with the expansion is to do further processing and packaging of the existing raw materials.”
At the current facility, the product is moved straight into a cooler. The expansion would allow the business to package this produce from its property in Arthur.
“I certainly think this is a good use of agricultural land,” said Warden Andy Lennox. “It’s not really a compatible use with many neighbours so this is a great use of this property and good to see the additional investment in that property to enable it to be a viable business in the long term.”
However, the meeting's lone delegate, Sebastian Altino, a poultry producer from Arthur, raised concerns over whether the expansion would lead to increased risks of avian influenza and other diseases for surrounding facilities.
“We almost wonder how big this abattoir is going to get and whether it would be better suited in an industrial area,” said Altino. “With all the different birds coming in from different properties, I feel the poultry farms in the area will be at higher risk to diseases now and moving forward as well.”
According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), there are currently no new poultry premises with avian influenza in Ontario. The last confirmed case was in Lambton Shores in Dec 2022.
“Being that this area is fairly poultry intense and we’ve been really struggling with avian influenza and it’s quite a big risk to our business,” said Altino. “Just a concern that we have and I know there were a few other producers in the area who are a little concerned as well.”
Coun. Steve McCabe asked what measures can be taken to mitigate possible influenza transfer and whether there will be any additional measures put in place.
“All that is being taken into consideration and will be bolstered and upgraded in order to comply with the federal regulations,” said Adam Aziz. “There will be an increase and more measures to comply with biosecurity.”
Council members passed the proposed bylaw later on in the council meeting.
Isabel Buckmaster is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally-funded program.