By Nicole Trigg
Heading into the home stretch of its rezoning application, the proposal for a small-scale abattoir near the Invermere crossroads has been greeted by resistance by many who feel queasy at the thought of a slaughterhouse so close to home, despite assurances by the Windermere Farmers Institute that noise, smell and visibility will not be an issue.
Now that the Regional District of East Kootenay has given the project an overwhelming thumbs up (12 votes in favour versus three opposed), the home run is guaranteed and its only a matter of time and funding, of course before farmers in the Columbia Valley can begin to provide locally grown and produced meat to its residents and visitors.
With the popularity of local food on the rise, what this will do for local food security as well as tourism and the local economy in general isnt complicated math.
Many local ranchers went out of business after the mad cow disease scare of 2004. New regulations stipulating that animals had to be slaughtered in a provincially inspected abattoir in order to be sold to the public meant valley farmers had to haul cattle to the nearest one in Cranbrook at a huge expense. The Farmers Institute has worked extremely hard on the abattoir proposal as a means to resuscitate the valleys cattle and farming industry; and, undoubtedly, when local, grass-fed, hormone-free beef becomes available with Invermeres well-loved European butcher shop/delicatessen, the Koenig Meat & Sausage Company, at its helm as the operator, the micro-abattoir will start to see the same wave of community support that Kicking Horse Coffee Company and Arrowhead Brewing Company have experienced.
Whats in store is not just another tasty menu item for local restaurants and local food connoisseur, but economic diversification and an increase in local jobs and career opportunities. The valleys farmers, residents and guests deserve a local meat industry. Thankfully, the Regional District of East Kootenay board thought so too.