Two of three partners involved in the proposed OlyWest hog processing plant in Winnipeg announced they are pulling out of the project.
Olymel of Quebec indicated financial troubles were a significant factor in its decision, but it and Big Sky Farms of Humboldt, Sask. also cited the Manitoba government moratorium on new and expanding hog operations imposed November, 2006 Manitoba as a factor. OlyWest has repeatedly stated that existing hog barns would supply the proposed slaughter plant.
Premier Doer said Olymel's financial troubles and cutbacks across the Canadian hog industry are the real reason Olymel and Big Sky Farms abandoned OlyWest. Big Sky president and CEO Florian Possberg admitted the province will need more finishing barns to bring animals to market weight.
Although the remaining partner, Hytek, said it will proceed with the project on its own, financial incentive packages from the City of Winnipeg and the Province will now have to be revisited. Hytek must resubmit a proposal to the city because the existing agreement refers to a three-party consortium, said city economic development manager Jim Paterson. Meanwhile, Premier Gary Doer said the province must look at whether Hytek still qualifies for a $20-million provincial loan promised to the OlyWest consortium at preferential rates.
Questions surrounding the Environment Act review and intended Clean Environment Commission hearings also exist. It is not clear whether Hytek will be required to resubmit the environmental licence application now the licence applicants are no longer the same.
David Hedman, chair of the Oly Opp Alliance, successfully obtained the results of city of Winnipeg polling which show that more than half of respondents opposed the plant. Freedom of information requests were blocked and took months to solve. "What we need is a plebiscite. Winnipeggers would clearly tell their governments this plant should go away."
View the December 7, 2006 letter and Poll results from Ombudsman Manitoba to David Hedman (PDF)
View the December 6, 2006 Winnipeg Free Press articles: 1, 2, 3 (DOCs)
View the December 5, 2006 CBC articles: 1, 2
View past Manitoba Wildlands news items about OlyWest:
November 21, 2006 - OlyWest Investigation, Hearing Delay?
November 17, 2006 - Hog Barns Moratorium, Water Protection Review
October 13, 2006 - OlyOpp Alliance Launch to Oppose OlyWest
September 14, 2006 - CEC Hearings for OlyWest Hog Plant
July 20, 2006 - Confusion Over OlyWest Hearings
May 1, 2006 - Opposition to Winnipeg Hog Plant Gains Momentum
Sources: Winnipeg Free Press, CBC