Maple Ridge chicken farm protest grows

Not much city can do as operation is permitted farm use within ALR.

Lee Fairley (centre) stands with his neighbours (from left) Imelda Cross

Opposition is mounting to a chicken barn in east Maple Ridge, as residents concerned about traffic, noise and smell are now displaying protest signs on their lawns.

Andrew Pozsar wants to build a two-storey, 20,000-sq.-ft chicken barn on his property on 250th Street, north of Dewdney Trunk Road. It would produce 25,000 grown chickens every 54 days, in a cage-free environment.

Two weeks ago, he circulated an information sheet to about 230 nearby homes, outlining his plans.

A “Stop The Chicken Farm” Facebook page claims 170 members have emailed or called about their opposition to Pozsar’s plans.

“This is a neighbourhood that’s been built as a residential neighbourhood. Now we’re asking to put in a commercial operation, and the most controversial one we could think of, really,” said Lori Harder, who’s lived in the area for 23 years.

It’s not like people have just moved into a new area beside an existing farm, she added.

“I definitely don’t want it this going in this neighbourhood,” said Chris Jarzebiak.

“The pollution, the noise, the trucks coming up here, the smell, the bacteria,” he added.

“We don’t deserve that and need that. These are life-long investments we’ve made.”

Mary Chorney said the operation is too big for the area.

“A big business operation like that needs to be on 20-acre parcel because it’s a commercial operation. It’s not a hobby farm operation. A two-acre parcel is a hobby farm operation, not a commercial operation. That’s a business, with that many vehicles coming up and down, should not be in a neighbourhood such as this.”

Lee Fairley made the “Stop the Chicken Farm on 250th Street” lawn signs and isn’t sure what Pozsar’s intentions are.

Pozsar wanted to inform his neighbours of his plans and visited 230 homes, after getting such advice from the B.C. Chicken Marketing Board. He was told to build community consensus before the barn.

But he has only received grief and stress from his neighbours, he said.

“There is so much anger and hate in this community. The harassment, the threats I’m getting, are just too much,” he added.

“These people hate me so much, seriously, I fear for my life.”

He said earlier that the Ministry of Agriculture visited the location and said that the site was adequate for a chicken operation, while the B.C. Chicken Marketing Board advised against it.

Pozsar said if he doesn’t get 75 per cent support, he’ll abandon his plans.

He hasn’t yet compiled all the responses, but “it doesn’t look good for me at this point.”

He still wants Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read and the city to show up a at town hall meeting on the issue, so he can make his case. But that hasn’t been organized.

Pozsar said with his land being within the Agricultural Land Reserve, he can legally build the chicken barn.

He also said he told neighbours the barn would be built to the latest standards, but there is no way to prevent smells from the operation.

“Yeah, it’s going to stink, but we can grow food locally.”

Mayor Nicole Read said that the kind of farm that Pozsar is planning can create a lot of smell. But the city can’t deny a building permit for a permitted farm use within the ALR, she added.

“The city has not a lot of power because it’s in the ALR. I don’t think the city has a lot of recourse.”

In order to start producing chickens, Pozsar would have to buy quota from the marketing board.

He points out that a chicken barn a farming activity that’s protected under provincial legislation, the Farm Practices Protection Act.

 

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