District farmers soon may be spared the long haul to Dryden to have their livestock slaughtered if a local initiative receives the funding it seeks for a new abattoir in Stratton.
A group of local investors has raised substantial capital and submitted a plan to the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp. that once again could allow local cattle farmers to have their stock slaughtered closer to home rather than incur the expense of shipping them to Dryden and back.
The Heritage Fund is an arm’s-length branch of the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines overseen by a group of non-elected officials who consider applications for funding.
The Rainy River Future Development Corp. (RRFDC) formally submitted a proposal to build a new abattoir in Stratton to replace the one that was closed there seven years ago.
The plan has been in the works for some time and but only formally submitted in mid-December. The group is seeking about $300,000 in funding to match the money already raised.
RRFDC chair Telford Advent said the idea was six years in the making but now that a formal plan has been submitted, he doesn’t anticipate any undue delays on the part of the provincial government.
“I’m fairly optimistic Rainy River [District] will finally get what it deserves,” said Advent. “Hopefully, by the spring we’ll start construction.”
Advent said a local abattoir will benefit more than just cattle farmers.
“It changes the dynamics of things because farmers can now sell locally,” he noted. “That means there could be as many as 15 to 20 new jobs created as a spin-off effect.”
Furthermore, other livestock producers—hog, elk, and bison farmers—also have a vested interest in the project.
Geoff Gillon, the RRFDC’s economic development officer, shares Advent’s optimism regarding the government moving quickly on the project.
“I don’t see any obstacles at the moment,” he said. “It’s a sound proposal.”
Jean Riddell, northern development advisor for the MNDM, has seen the proposal and, according to her, it’s a good one.
“I think it’s a great proposal,” she said from her office in Thunder Bay. “I don’t anticipate any reason for this project not to go forward as usual.”
The next step in the process, said Riddell, is for the proposal to be reviewed by the NOHFC board. These meetings usually occur once a month, so a decision may be reached in February.
Northern Development and Mines minister Jim Wilson will announce the decision as soon as it is available.
Timing may be fortunate here. With a provincial election expected as early as this spring, the provincial government is in a position to make political hay among the local livestock sector.