“What are they hiding?” That question has been at the top of mind for animal activists and residents living near the Ryding-Regency Meat Packers at 70 Scarlett Rd. Especially so since the abattoir was abruptly shut down last week by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).
The reason given by the agency was “non-compliances related to control measures.”
The beef processing plant located in Toronto’s trendy Junction neighbourhood has been in the news for years over allegations of severe animal cruelty – and for smelling up the neighbourhood (as abattoirs do).
So far, despite a food safety probe, no food recalls linked to the Sept. 17 suspension have occurred.
A notice from the agency said: "The licence suspension will be lifted if CFIA determines that the required corrective measures have been taken. If measures are not taken within 90 days after suspension, CFIA may cancel the licence.”
Toronto Cow Save organizer Anita Krajnc said in a news release "Ryding-Regency has also been shown to be a place of severe animal welfare violations. Two years ago, activists filmed cows being hoisted and skinned while conscious.” Krajnc was in the news in 2015 when she was charged with mischief for giving water to pigs outside a slaughterhouse in Burlington. In May, 2017, an Ontario Court judge found her not guilty.
Famous Canadian journalist and author Linda McQuaig tweeted that she’s “delighted” that the slaughterhouse has been shut down.
Activists and nearby residents, though anxious to get to the bottom of exactly went wrong at Ontario’s largest processor of beef, are likely relieved and excited by the fact that the smell of death wafting from the plant might become a thing of the past.
It’s been over four years since another infamous (and equally foul smelling) Toronto abattoir, Quality Meat Packers Ltd., shut down their slaughterhouse in the Niagara neighbourhood of Toronto. Since the shutdown, condo construction in the area has continued to boom and major development plans are underway for the site at 2 Tecumseh St. and 125 Niagara St.
It has long been speculated that the Scarlett Rd. slaughterhouse site, once closed, would be a prime area for similar development. Located in The Stockyards, it’s in the northeastern part of the the Junction neighbourhood whose main intersections are Dundas St. West and Keele Street. The neighbourhood is near the West Toronto Diamond railway junction of four railway lines.
The Junction, long the location of the Ontario Stockyards, was once this country’s largest livestock market and the centre of Ontario's meat packing industry, helping brand Toronto in a previous era as Hogtown. Most of the meat packing plants started leaving the area beginning in 1993.
Nearly 200,000 have signed a petition calling for the place to be shut down since video footage leaked a few years ago of cows being hung upside down and skinned while still alive inside the facility.
The closure of the Ryding Regency plant is also causing some concern for the Kashruth Council of Canada, the largest certification agency in the country. Kashruth’s managing director Richard Rabkin, said that there are few kosher meat plants in Canada and that Ryding-Regency is the largest. He told the CBC that “we are very concerned about access to kosher meat for Canadian kosher consumers and we hope that this does not interrupt the supply.”
Some, like Miriam Porter on Twitter are hoping the slaughterhouse is finished.