Pork protesters prompt parking prohibition
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Pork protesters prompt parking prohibition

Citing safety concerns, Woolwich has agreed to a request from Conestoga Meat Packers to prohibit stopping on a stretch of Lonsdale Road adjacent to the company’s Breslau plant.

The spot outside the pork-processing operation has been the site of vigils by Guelph Pig Save, an animal rights organization. Small groups of protesters have occasionally gathered near the gates where pigs are delivered to the slaughterhouse, with their vehicles presenting something of an obstacle course to the livestock trucks.

The bylaw changes approved September 3 by township council prohibit stopping on both sides of Lonsdale Road for 200 metres (650 feet) south of Menno Street.

“That would suffice to keep things safe,” said Steve Keczem, Conestoga Meat Packers’ (CMP) director of finance, in addressing councillors Tuesday night.

“We want to make sure everybody stays safe … make sure nobody gets hurt,” company president Arnold Drung said in an interview the following day.

While the protesters haven’t really impeded traffic to and from the facility, there is an increased risk due to issues with visibility if parked cars make the route narrower even as people are milling about on foot.

The vigils have been sporadic, he said, with “two or three or a handful of people” showing up every couple of weeks.

There doesn’t appear to be any intentional blocking of trucks, but the actions of the activists do present a safety concern, added Drung.

Guelph Pig Save is a group that advocates for the rights of pigs and other animals, encouraging a vegan diet.

“Conestoga Meat Packers is the largest slaughterhouse in the region. We focus on the massive slaughterhouses, but we educate people about compassion for all animals, and promote veganism,” reads the group’s website.

Even as the “sporadic” protests occur, CMP is in the midst of an expansion. Construction now underway will add another 25,000 square feet to the facility, increasing the plant’s size by 20 per cent. Another 100 employees will join the staff.

Keczem told councillors the company has already hired about 70 people, with 40 now on the job. The new addition is expected to be put into operation by mid-November.

Drung said the exterior of the additions has been largely completed, with work now switching to the interior, starting with mechanical and refrigeration units. The expansion boosts the output capacity of the plant.

CMP, in operation since 1982, is a vertically integrated processor of pork. The company is a co-operative, owned and supplied by 150 southern Ontario family farmers.

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