New abattoir changed to custom-fit facility

Larger beef carcasses require room to move for mobile abattoir

A mobile abattoir based in 100 Mile House promised by the province will be delayed until after the election, but the B.C. Liberal government indicates it will be an improved model that will be more suited to the needs of the South Cariboo community.

Cariboo-Chilcotin B.C. Liberal candidate Donna Barnett says the original red-meat abattoir announced in March was a previously-used trailer model, but further investigation showed it wasn’t as appropriate as it could be.

“We figured we would have it here before the election, because we were looking at one up north.”

She explains that after staff went up there to check it out, and then went over the design particulars with the local meat-processing facility, the ministry determined another design would be better.

“It did not satisfy the needs of the community.”

Barnett says she has a letter of commitment from Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick promising the full funding is in place and an abattoir is coming before this fall – just not as soon as originally indicated.

“[The ministry is] ordering a 36-foot mobile slaughterhouse processing unit with all of the equipment necessary to make it operational.”

The brand-new unit construction includes a three-sided roofed enclosure for the docking station, she notes.

“This is an extra add-on to what the original agreement was because it is a different unit. And, it’s one that will work for a long time.”

Barnett explains the ministry and B.C. Centre for Disease Control worked in co-operation with Findlay Meats in 100 Mile House, where the abattoir will be permanently installed, to ensure the best possible “fit” for the agriculture community, while meeting all provincial licensing standards.

Findlay Meats owner Rob Morrison says the first trailer had several issues that would leave “big challenges” for installation and operation.

These included a nine-foot ceiling height, and cooler doors on the opposite side from where they would match up to those at his meat processing facility, he explains.

“All the beef that came out of there had to be quartered, but with this unit here, they can be left in whole sides.

“The new unit is better suited to our business and for the community.”

Morrison notes the 11-foot ceiling height on the new unit is more appropriate for handling the larger animals raised in the South Cariboo.

The doors will be configured to match up with the existing facility doors, he adds, so the rails to convey the meat move in the right direction.

“The fact you are starting with everything brand-new is just much better. It has a better flow to it.”

NDP agriculture critic Lana Popham recently indicated she doesn’t believe the abattoir will be ready for slaughter this fall, but Barnett says that concern is unfounded.

“The letter of commitment says ‘the mobile abattoir will be delivered as soon as possible to make sure it is operational by the fall 2013 slaughter season’.”