Manitoba hog producers worry that recent changes to provincial planning laws could make applications for livestock operations harder.
Proposed amendments to the Planning Act may force operators to spend a lot of up-front money on site assessments without any assurance their applications will be approved, said Mike Teillet of the Manitoba Pork Council.
Applications must also be posted on a province-wide registry, which means anyone anywhere in Manitoba could learn about them and object, added Teillet, manager of sustainable development programs.
“We don’t want to overstate these things but they are of some concern.”
The province last week tabled amendments to the Planning Act to set out procedures for reviewing applications for large-scale livestock operations.
Teillet said the changes themselves are minor and mainly give authority to adopt regulations governing procedures already in place.
Those include the operation of technical review committees and conditional use hearings.
But Teillet said new requirements for a “comprehensive site assessment” for operations with 300 or more animal units are worrisome.
At present, applicants must do some site assessment before municipal councils consider their applications. But Teillet said it’s pretty minor and usually costs only a few thousand dollars to hire a consultant for the work.
But the new site assessment requirements require a lot more work before councils see the application. Teillet said an applicant could spend tens of thousands of dollars on an assessment with no guarantee the application will be viewed favourably when it’s made.
“It’s those up-front costs that they now are going to have to put into the comprehensive site assessment without any idea whether or not they’re going to get council’s approval.”
Teillet also said the pork council isn’t thrilled that notices about livestock applications will now have to be listed in a public registry on the government website. Currently, such notices are only sent out locally to residents who might be affected.
Now, anybody could show up at a conditional use hearing to voice objections even if they aren’t directly involved, said Teillet.
“The concern from our perspective is that it potentially could bring out people who are, let’s say, not friends of the hog industry,” he said.
“It is something I think we might be concerned about: you might get more people objecting to an application who aren’t even from the area.”
Teillet said the pork council was trying to get more information on the proposed amendments so it could express its concerns.
The council hasn’t seen the full regulation yet and worries there could be more items of concern, he said.
“There could be more buried in there that we’re not aware of.” [email protected]
MIKE TEILLET, MPC