NEWS

Pig slaughterhouse offends condo dwellers' snouts

07/02/2013 05:16 EDT | Updated 09/01/2013 05:12 EDT
Liberty Village residents living near a landmark abattoir are raising a stink about the summertime odours drifting from the killing floor to their condo towers.

Quality Meat Packers Ltd. has been slaughtering hogs at the same plant at Tecumseth and Niagara streets since 1916.

While the business's owners say there are no plans to leave, neighbours in surrounding highrises say the historic pig-processing factory runs afoul of the increasingly trendy King Street West enclave's residential feel.

They also say the meat-packing operation reeks as humidity and temperatures rise in warm-weather months.

"It's really, really horrible. It's nauseating sometimes," neighbour Jessi Ehret said of the stench.

About 6,000 pigs arrive every day at the plant, which sits next to a green space and dog park.

'The screaming'

But it's not just the smells that residents say are disturbing. There's also the squealing from the pigs as they're hauled in trucks and corralled into the factory.

"It's not a nice sight. You know, the screaming," Ehret said. "If [the slaughterhouse] moved, it would be great."

Not likely, according to a spokesperson for Quality Meat Packers. About 700 workers are employed there.

The company notes that it has been a fixture of the community for nearly 100 years and that it has also taken steps to suppress the smell — including filtering the air before it's released from the facility. Chemical sprays are also used to mask the odour.

And besides, Toronto's heritage as a pigs-processing centre helped earn it the nickname "Hogtown."

That has done little to assuage realtors like Brad Lamb, who argue that Liberty Village has evolved from its industrial-district past into a hip urban area primed for condo development.

'They were here first'

"Its time is done," Lamb said. "It should move on to other places where it's more appropriate to be slaughtering and processing pigs."

Mark Pesci, who lives in the area, is used to the smell, but he has a more sympathetic perspective on things, pointing out that clashes between the old and the new are a common problem with urban gentrification.

"We're the ones who moved in on their area. They were here first," Pesci says.

Erin Dowse, owner of the nearby Old York Bar & Grill, doesn't so much mind the smells, though her patrons will — from time to time — get a whiff and ask what stinks.

"And I just say, 'Oh, it's the slaughterhouse across the street,'" Dowse said. "It's part of our neighbourhood."

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