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Tecumseth Street abattoir: newer residents smell disgust, long-timers accept the whiff

February 25th, 2011 · 15 Comments

By Beth Macdonell

Quality Meat Packers (2 Tecumseth St.) has no plans of closing. Beth Macdonell/ Gleaner News.

Although an abattoir on Tecumseth Street has been operating for almost a century, some residents remain perturbed by the smell of live pigs being brought into the area for slaughter. Initially run by the city, Toronto Abattoirs Limited and Quality Meat Packers Limited, irk John Sleeman, 65, a retired resident who lives  on Wellington Street between Tecumseth and Bathurst.

“It’s just a ridiculous location for that kind of operation in this day and age, the stink and noise and the endless lines of trucks with squealing pigs that go in and out, day and night,” he said. Sleeman moved into a townhouse near the facility three years ago. He said he’s affected by the odour daily when he walks his dog Maggie to the Stanley Park dog park. “I wish they would totally get rid of it,” Sleeman said. “And it also upsets my wife seeing the little piggies going to slaughter.”

But, according to Teresa Scott, a resident in the area for 20 years and chair of the Niagara Neighbourhood Now neighbourhood association, Sleeman is in the minority. Most residents actually support the business, said Scott.

Based on the complaints and her dealings with residents, she said she believes only 10 per cent of the community oppose the abattoir, mostly new people to the area. “The common answer from a lot of the new residents is ‘When it gets bad enough I’ll move,’ instead of ‘I’ll take action.’”

Although he’s not the activist type, Sleeman would be more inclined to take action if others approached him.

Right now, he’s concerned the Strachan overpass, set to accommodate the Metrolinx rail expansion, will divert hog truck routes to Bathurst driving west along a residential stretch of Wellington, instead of the current route along Strachan and driving east along Wellington which is more of a commercial and industrial zone.

Ron Hamilton, manager of traffic operations with the City of Toronto, said not much can be done to control hog truck routes. “If it’s a locally generated delivery, those vehicles are permitted,” he said. Hamilton added there is often a misunderstanding with the “no heavy trucks” sign residents see posted on their streets. He said the signs are in fact targeted to trucks not making deliveries to the specific area.

John Sleeman and his dog, Maggie. Beth Macdonell/ Gleaner News.

Scott said she’s often left explaining to new residents the abattoir has no plans of closing. “It’s a very important part the neighbourhood’s history, it provides a lot of jobs, and the facility has been good to the community.”

Many years ago, Scott said the company did work to curb noxious exhaust fumes from the facility.

Also, about five years ago when the workers went on strike, they handed out free meat to locals.

In an email to the Gleaner, responding to questions about how residents and the facility have coexisted, Sheldon Garfinkel, a vice president for Toronto Abattoir and Quality Meat Packers said the company has “ongoing communication with the Niagara Neighbourhood Association, have attended meetings when requested, and we sponsor certain neighbourhood activities during the year.”

One worker, an immigrant from China employed at the abattoir since 2001, who did not want to give his name, said the smell is present almost everyday because there are 6,000 live pigs arriving daily. “Everybody knows that,” he said.

When asked how he felt if the facility were to close, the worker said there has always been talk about it closing, but that it’s never happened. “I keep working,” he laughed.

Smith believes the misconception about the abattoir’s closing stems from real estate agents not always being honest with their clients. “I’ve heard from people in the past, whether it’s lying or being evasive, the rumour is that they are moving, so they are not actually lying,” she explained.

“They are playing word games. You want to make sure you know the neighbourhood you’re buying into and not just listen to hearsay about what a realtor tells you.”

“There are always rumours that’s it’s going to shut down,” said John Maguire, a Royal LePage realtor with who’s been selling townhomes and condos in King West for 13 years. “I always tell them [clients] about it. I tell them it’s an issue. We don’t want to surprise anyone.”

“While I sympathize with workers being laid off, I’ve always wondered why the abattoir owners just don’t build a newer state-of-the-art facility out of town,” said Sleeman. “Plus it’s prime real estate that they could profit from.”

Maguire said the impact depends on where you live. Townhouse owners opening their door at ground level are more likely to catch a whiff versus condo owners who live elevated and often keep their windows shut.

“Obviously we would be relieved to tell clients it was closing,” said Maguire.

Smith said if the facility were to close it would be negative. “If it leaves there is going to be massive development. There’s going to be high density condos, townhomes. I don’t think that’s good for the neighbourhood.”

Tags: News · General

15 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Vanessa // Feb 26, 2011 at 7:35 am

    I am suspect of the accuracy of all the facts in your article when you don’t spell the street name correctly.

  • 2 Wayne Gretzky // Mar 6, 2011 at 3:22 am

    seriously? a simple typo will make you overlook the news? that’s kind of sad… really, really sad. Everybody makes mistakes, i mean for goodness sakes,even Gretzky once missed an open net on a breakaway…. way to be, you overcritical lemon.

  • 3 Admin // Mar 7, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    Thanks Vanessa, you are correct. Tecumseth Street is spelt ‘s-e-T-h’ on the end and not ‘s-e-h’.

    Tecumseth Street is named after the native leader Tecumseh. He joined Sir Isaac Brock and the British forces during war of 1812 in the siege of Detroit, forcing the Americans there to surrender. It is considered a pivotal moment in the war. The Gleaner thought it was odd Tecumseth Street was spelled differently than in the history books and decided to do some further research.

    According to the Friends of Fort York (FFY), the most common spelling of ‘Tecumseh’ is without the ‘t’, as is the case in Tecumseh the town near Windsor, Ontario and Tecumseh Park Drive and Tecumseh Park Crescent in Mississauga, Ontario. FFY also said Tecumseh without the ‘t’ is the most commonly used spelling in history books. FFY added that the spelling of Tecumseth/Tecumseh was derived from an approximation of the English language and that the proper pronunciation of the name is actually closer to ‘Te-cum-suh’, so it makes sense that there is no definitive spelling on the name.

    The Gleaner appreciates your attention to detail. Thank you for keeping us on our toes!

  • 4 snooters // Mar 8, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    The smell & squeels are nothing compared to the torture these animals face at this facility. Perhaps having it in plain view is something that will remind you of where your (not mine, I am vegan for just this reason)comes from.
    I would be more concerned with the animal abuse going on there then the smell & noise…..perhaps you should be too…

  • 5 Ghostrider // Mar 17, 2011 at 8:59 am

    Why do people move next to a Slaughter house and then bitch about the smell…duh!

    The place was in the location before all those homes were built..to bad so sad. Move on.

    As for the pigs, how do you now they are tortured?
    ave you seen anyone put a car a battery on their nipples?..Sheeesh.

  • 6 Caesuras // Mar 26, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Snooters, I’m with you. I was absolutely horrified to find out what the awful stench around the Front / Bathurst area was.

  • 7 Beta // Apr 5, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    I back onto this place. it’s actually not as bad as people think. They keep the lane clean, the drivers are pretty respectful. It was there before I was. It helps support sustainable local food products by not relocating.

    if the odour is offending people they can complain to the ministry of environment. A company like this would need to control odour emissions. and the MOE would be the body in charge of that.

    there are maybe 2 days a year where it smells really strongly of ammonia. I can live with that, the rest of the area is fantastic.

    Oh and about the pig trucks? As a pedestrean the smell isn’t great, but I love that the slow traffic down. The days they aren’t on the roadway I almost get plowed down by cars zooming through the area who don’t like to stop for stop signs.

  • 8 Jitterbug cellphone // May 4, 2011 at 11:53 am

    For some cause the picture isn’t loading appropriately, is presently there an issue?

  • 9 Editor // May 4, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    Jitterbug,

    It looks fine on my computer screen and my phone. Maybe it was just a temporary glitch?

    -Emina

  • 10 The 20 worst smells in Toronto | ART TDOT // Aug 3, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    […] plant on Comstock Road come to mind – there are notorious foul smelling areas like the abattoir near King and Bathurst or the Nitta Gelatin plant near Bloor and […]

  • 11 herepiggypiggy // Nov 8, 2011 at 7:51 am

    Look Residents, I’ve seen some of you skanky people and really the pigs don’t like how most of you smell either or your dog crap all over the park. If the pigs go, your dogs are next as they stink up the park. Do you eat pork products people? If so, than what r u bitching about? If you don’t like it, than quit eating bacon, how do you think it gets to your plate?

  • 12 john // Jan 22, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    Yeah it smells sometimes, and those poor pigs suffer terribly on cold winter days on the truck ride in. The plant is well run, having been inside many times. It’s an awesome neighborhood, that I have been hoping to move to for some time. Houses are hard to get.

    This John Sleeman s
    hould accept that he bought a house by a meat plant or move out.

  • 13 jay // Mar 22, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    The smell is unbearable and the slaughterhouse should re-locate or deal with the smell.They house the pigs in an outdoor pen,they should be housed indoors to control the smell.Also there are far more than 10% of the resident in this area that don’t like the smell or the slaughterhouse i would say 60%

  • 14 LT // Mar 23, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    “As long as there are slaughterhouses
    …there will be battlefields.”
    —Leo Tolstoy

    Unfortunately, the issue here is much deeper than creating jobs or booming real-estate. It’s one that few ever have an opportunity to face. It actually requires a look within oneself. Who’s ready for that?

    Want to change something, make a move. Get creative, make some flyers, set up a blog, talk to your community—your neighbours, who aren’t represented by some out-of-touch “association.”

    Need some help getting off of animal flesh, check out meat.org or look online for a video called ‘Earthlings-Make the Connection’

  • 15 Elizabeth // Jul 20, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    Two years ago, on June 12, I went on a tour through the neighbourhood with Peter, one of the tour guides at nearby Historic Fort York. This is when I learned about the pig slaughterhouse for the first time. Maybe Toronto got its nickname ‘Hogtown’ from this slaughter-house and others. Peter described the neighbourhood, Trinity-Niagara, as being ‘gritty’ (unattractive and rough around the edge from industrial development) – it’s the first time I heard this particular definition of this g-word.