Letter to the editor: comments on an Elk Valley mink farm

"I grew up on a farm where we raised, processed and ate our own meat," said Fernie resident.

I grew up on a farm where we raised, processed and ate our own meat. The family did some hunting and some trapping. Dad wore a muskrat coat and we sat under a cowhide blanket when we travelled in winter.

I think Mr. Bennett has a good idea when he suggests baseline studies on nearby waterways. I think groundwater samples on neighbouring properties would be appropriate too. On-going monitoring will be needed too. Who would have access to the results? Who will pay? Which ministry has funds available for this? (I don’t see the potential mink farmer as responsible or RDEK the way the licensing is set up).

The line in the article saying “The MOA did confirm that each application must submit a letter of permission from their local government to operate a fur farm on their premises as a condition of their license being approved,” intrigued me. I didn’t find this in my searches.  Mr. Sosnowski informs me it is merely up to the RDEK to confirm that this is a permitted use! It seems to me that the RDEK might be allowed to add a few requirements such as setback of building and waste disposal from water sources and residences, permitted waste disposal methods  and odour control. Unfortunately it appears that the present proponent is approved under current legislation and meeting any further conditions would be at his discretion, an effort to keep peace in the community at additional cost.

The federal rules I found looked pretty generic. They seem to call on the RCMP and local SPCA to enforce them. Mr. Wilks could comment on the way investigation could be done and what penalties could be applied for infractions. I know that if I had a valuable herd that the law required me to protect from infections and stress I would NOT allow any strangers access to the barns.

The provincial rules are a lot more extensive. They provide the right of a provincial inspector to have access to the premises during business hours with no notice. If compliance turns out to be a complaint driven procedure great damage could be done before a problem is uncovered. I hope Mr Bennett can comment on the maximum $50 fine and on the availability of an inspector.

I would certainly like to hear that Mr. Bernemann is a paid up member of the Canada Mink Breeders Association or an equivalent organization.

For the future I look forward to the RDEK finding ways that they can regulate and monitor farm activities to keep them humane and acceptable to neighbours and environment without infringing on the rights of individuals/land owners- and do it in an economical way. Perhaps the RDEK can find a way to be responsible for the local inspection and enforcement of provincial regulations? Disposal of excrement and carcasses could potentially fall on the RDEK if on-site composting is not required. If the farm turns out to be a serious predator attractant, I cannot imagine a way to deal with it economically.

Bill Silversides,

Wildsight Elk Valley member

Fernie, BC

 

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