Four conditional use orders approved for new hog barns – plus hefty road charges for HyLife trucks

Local council to charge pork company $12,000 per 10,000 head barn site each year for road maintenance


It’s the price of doing business.

That’s what the mayor and six members of council for the Municipality of Killarney-Turtle Mountain announced last Wednesday afternoon, shortly after voting in favour of four conditional use order applications for the building of four new – and highly controversial – HyLife barns, south of Killarney.

It will be costly for the pork giant, because the council is also introducing what is reportedly the first development agreement of its kind in the province as part of the deal – and HyLife can take it or leave it, they said.

“The developmental agreement with HyLife is non-negotiable,” said Mayor Rick Pauls. “We are a pro-active council, and we have all agreed. It has to make financial sense.”

One condition of the conditional use order is that the municipality will be charging the company a yearly fee for road building and repairs of their battered municipal roads.

Using a calculation, based on two tiers of road maintenance and road construction, the finance department of the municipality, along with council, worked out the annual charges to be $12,000 per new HyLife barn site.

This will help compensate for the year-round road maintenance required due to damage by the heavy-laden HyLife Ltd. trucks – carrying either feed or livestock – which have been steadily beating up the municipal gravel roads on their way to existing hog barns in the area.

On average, 13 more trucks will travel to each new barn site every week, using similar roads, if the projects go ahead.

“I can’t let these barns come in here at a cost to us,” said Janice Smith, councillor for Killarney-Turtle Mountain. “It’s the price of doing business. If this is what they want to do, and this is where they want to be, this is the cost.”

“We are losing,” said Coun. Ron Opperman. “Why would we want to keep on losing?”

The fees generated by the road levies will be divided equally between municipal road operations, and replacement reserves, said the mayor.

After 20 years of experience with local hog barns, council members feel they understand the ramifications of the pork industry much better than when they first started, they said.

Which is why an attached development agreement can help the municipality as a whole make a better deal with the pork company.

Conditional Use Orders, which is what the council voted on this week, are only one step in the process towards HyLife building their new hog barns.

And the conditions outlined in these orders are very limited, which gives council only a small basis of control.

Basically, the conditions include the issues concerning roads, odour, shelterbelts, manure storage covers, fencing, site drainage, and the timing of construction.

But under Conditional Use Order section 107(1)c, the municipality can also require the owner, ie. HyLife, to enter into a development agreement on a number of matters. Which is what they have done, in consultation with a lawyer.

This move, especially if it is successful, will set to create a precedent and a template in Manitoba for all future hog barn agreements.

HyLife will have to sign this development agreement, sometime after completing their legal papers with council on the Conditional Use Order, in order to proceed to the next steps.

“There’s not a whole lot we can do in there, but we have tried to strike a balance,” said Mayor Pauls.

As a result, the development agreement includes a number of items.

One of them is dust control on the truck routes. HyLife must agree to pay 75 per cent of the cost of calcium spray for residents on the routes, if they request it. The resident will pay the remaining 25 per cent.

“It would help show the residents who live nearby that we were doing something to help, and they were getting something out of it,” said Karen Patterson, chief administrative officer for the municipality.

Shelterbelts must be planted on the sites, including two kinds of trees, and a minimum of three rows. Council agreed that two-three inch diameter trees would be required, and that a registered arborist would be hired.

“We could look at the maturity of the tree,” said municipal planning officer Rachel Andrews. “You don’t want a sapling that a deer will eat in a second, or that will die off in a week. It’s in HyLife’s best interest to put in trees that survive well.”

Councillor Connie Blixhavn added that shelterbelts on the sites could also improve snow control on the roads.

“If the shelterbelt is far enough back, it will stop the snow,” she said. “I think having the barn and trees will make it better.”

Council will also order HyLife to move the barns at Tuscany Site, on SE-12-01-18W, back 50 feet, in order to improve the access, and allow trucks to turn around inside the property.

For the Niagara Site, on SW-13-01-17W, the development agreement will order HyLife to construct their own access road of half a mile, at their own cost.

“We have no municipal responsibility on (that) new road,” said Mayor Pauls. “HyLife can build it and maintain it for the first year, including snow removal, at their own expense. After one year of completion, the municipality will take over maintenance, if it’s up to our standards. I’d like to see a season. A lot can happen on a new road. It takes time to settle and show faults.”

In regards to the Southgate Expansion Site, on NE-03-01-16W, which has applied for a new conditional use for 20,000 head of hogs, council will begin charging road fees as soon as the conditional use agreement is signed by HyLife.

“Southgate is a new conditional use application,” said Mayor Pauls. “It will be $12,000 per year on the existing 10,000 head barn, and start when they sign the agreement. It will be pro-rated to that date, and will increase on the new barn (by another $12,000) next year, when it becomes operational.”

In regards to odour, council is recommending that neigbours affected by odour keep a record and log of the events.

Coun. Blixhavn said that if HyLife cleaned their barns daily, there would be less smell.

“Keep a continued written record of complaints, with the time and the day of the event,” she said.

Coun. Ron Opperman agreed that complaints had to be in writing.

“It shouldn’t be different out there than it is in town,” he said. “They should have to put it in writing, and not just complain about it in the coffeeshop.”

Mayor Pauls contacted a HyLife executive by telephone just after the vote, to inform him of the conditional use results, and to add some information regarding the development agreement – and its financial figures.

The pork company executive was not happy with news of the road charges, said the mayor.

“They said they are discouraged, to say the least,” said the mayor.

Votes for the Conditional Use Orders were as follows:

Niagara: six for, one against

Tuscany: five for, two against

Napa: five for, two against

Southgate: unanimously passed

Council members expect to meet up with the HyLife executives very soon, in order to discuss the terms and agreements of both documents.

CHANGES DOWN THE ROAD FOR HYLIFE TRUCKS – When it comes to new barn applications, HyLife Ltd. will now have to pay a charge to the municipality in order to help cover the costs of maintaining and rebuilding damaged municipal roads. Fees will be based on the routes they run with their feed and livestock trucks, like the one above.