The South Island Prosperity Partnership has received $12,500 to commission a feasibility study for a local abattoir.
There are currently only a handful of certified abattoirs on the Island — in Courtenay, Nanaimo and Duncan — as well as facilities on Saturna and Salt Spring islands.
“We often buy meat from outside our region due to cost savings from highly concentrated industrial farming, but having a local abattoir could help change that,” said Emilie de Rosenroll, CEO of the economic alliance of more than 60 public and private sector partners in Greater Victoria, in a statement this week. “Not only will it help farmers, it will benefit consumers who want to buy higher-quality local products, too.”
The partnership said there is growing demand for locally and ethically sourced meat, as well as wide interest in local producers having their livestock processed in the region.
The vast majority of meat sold on the Island comes from elsewhere, and most locally raised livestock are transported out of the region to be processed, the partnership said. That creates undue stress for the animals and increases costs and logistics for local producers.
Processing livestock locally would reduce the environmental impact of transport out of the region and generate local jobs and economic activity, the group said.
The study is funded in part by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the provincial government through programs delivered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of B.C.
Provincial regulations around slaughterhouse licensing were tightened in 2004 after bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, elevated public-health concerns.
De Rosenroll said that as the region faces an unprecedented global health crisis, the importance of local food-supply chains is becoming even more evident.
The partnership has commissioned Greenchain Consulting to undertake the abattoir feasibility study.