Only after the last tree has been cut down.  Only after the last river has been poisoned.  Only after the last fish has been caught.  Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.

"When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically. In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof." - Wingspread Statement of the Precautionary Principle.

January 2002 to June 2003 | July 2003 to September 2003 | October 2003 to Present

Barrier Valley

Minutes of the "STOP the HOGS Coalition"
July 6, 2003

2:00 pm
McKague Hall - McKague, SK

The meeting was brought to order shortly after 2:00 p.m. and those in attendance introduced themselves to the meeting, stating their name and where they live.

Guest Speakers: Isabel Muzichuk (Rama/Buchanan), Joe Homenuk (Weekes), Ryan Calder (Wadena/Kelvington NDP).

OLD BUSINESS: Elaine Hughes gave a brief history of what has happened within the RM in regard to the hog barns and where we are with the opposition up to this point.  Elaine explained the water flows in the area, soil conditions and how the barns could affect our environment and us.  She suggested that it might be a good idea for people to have their drinking water tested, and their land & buildings assessed if they suspect test holes are being dug anywhere near their land.

At this point Isabel Muzichuk was introduced.

NEW BUSINESS: Isabel Muzichuk, Rama/Buchanan, told those present that Rama was one of the first of the pig barns to go up, followed by Kelvington. Rama barn at this point in time has approximately 11,600 feeders. She said that her group held fundraisers to raise money for legal fees.  She stated that open-air lagoons should be banned, that there was a better way to deal with the waste, which would be digesters. Digesters being much more expensive than open-air lagoons are not being used but are a much better option. She noted that pig barns are not just a “local” issue; they are a “global” issue.

Isabel informed the group that the stench is unbearable; you have to close your windows. Much of the bacteria is air borne such as hog dander which is very allergy producing. These bacteria can cause bronchitis and asthma to note only a couple of the respiratory problems the bacteria can and do cause. People have died from handling manure.  She went on to say that pig feed has heavy metals in it, for example cadmium. This affects the water. Take Walkerton, for example; it contained the bacteria E Coli and killed 6 or 7 people. E. Coli causes kidney failure that can and does lead to death. Why does it take a tragedy like this to make people understand.  Isabel stated that it is the International Year of Water. In other countries, Corporate Enterprises have taken over the water supply. Don’t let ours be spoiled.   Do not be fooled by statements of no waste spillage. It happens too often, for example, Sturgis.  The air quality in the Rama barn is “bad” but she states that the employees of these barns won’t talk about the problems because they are afraid of losing their jobs.  She also informs us that now Manitoba wants to raise pigs in Saskatchewan. Right now they are looking at Moosomin.  These barns devaluate our property and ruin our health. Check the Internet for health concerns. The barns are inhumane to the animals; pigs and cattle should be free range. You should have a person in every area as a contact. She urges people to go out and meet your politicians and let them know about your concerns. Make sure you go out to vote and make demands on them. It is our tax money that is helping to put this thing in motion. Attend workshops to educate yourself and others. She says we need to keep up the fight or the barns will come in for sure.  Isabel told us of a farmer named Leo Kurtenbach, an elderly gentleman who has raised 50 - 100 pigs all of his life. A 900-pig barn was built near his home and now, when he wants to sell his land, he can’t. No one will buy it.  She suggests we have to have tolerance, we organize to make sure everyone can be involved. It is important to fight back and to become visible. Do not give up.


Question: Andy Taphorn: If we don’t have these barns, where do we go for pork?

Answer: Isabel: Go directly to suppliers, the pigs are inhaling ammonia they are not healthy for you to eat. Look for alternate sources - small pig barns (farmers) or try replacing the pork with bison meat.

Elaine Hughes requested volunteers to take out petition requiring 60 - 70% of the ratepayers’ signatures. There are 6 divisions and we would like 6 teams of at least two people.

Division 1 - Elaine Hughes

Division 2 – Sharleen Syrenne, Nadine Erickson

Division 3 - Carol Garland,

Division 4 - Dwayne & Lisa Sharpen, and Tammy Doerkson to contact someone in that area or do it themselves

Division 5 - Darlene Guest,

Division 6 - Dwayne & Lisa Sharpen, Joanne Bourque Glenn Angus

Petition Mail-Out Volunteers:  Elaine Hughes, Yvonne Gerwing, Carol Garland

Guest Speaker Joe Homenuk (Weekes):

If you want your children to stay home - KEEP THE BARNS OUT was  Joe’s opening statement. He has three sons, two that have moved away from the area and one that is 15 and still living at home with him. Joe is a farmer that started with 5000 acres and is now down to 500 acres. A pig barn was built a 1/2 mile from Joe’s corrals and 200 yards from his pasture. He can’t work in his shop, he has a hard time working with his bison because of the stench, it makes him physically ill. He says the government tells him they sympathize with him yet they are the same people who are authorizing the construction of these barns. He states that the politicians lie to you. I.e. In regard to a slurry spill – Clay Serby and Brian Campbell - only 50 litres were spilled, when questioned again it was 100 litres, when questioned again it became 500 litres. You cannot take them at their word, they are all liars.  Joe asked Mr. Possberg, “How much money did you put in to these barns as a provincial government? Mr. Possberg’s reply was, “25 million.” Joe asked, “Barns were sold for 4 million each, is that included in the 25 million or over and above?” Mr. Possberg stated, “That is a loan, it will be paid back when they start making money.” Joe has gone through a water appeal process (he has been hauling all of his water), Big Sky Farms said they should comply with the appeal but when Joe received the results, the Appeals Board had denied him. Big Sky had been pumping water that they did not have approval for; consequently, Joe’s herd had to eat snow all winter long. Big Sky had drilled into the springs, so when Joe had no water and was promised help that never did arrive, he went out and bought a valve and some hose and he too would use the springs. One day there was no water coming in the hose, he sent his son to check the hose and valve, upon returning his son told him that his hose had been torched. He informs us that Humboldt by-laws now state that no more pig barns will be built in their area.  Mr. Homenuk says that these barns are not taxed they pay a land tax only yet elevators were taxed $10 - $15 thousand per year. Road maintenance is to be paid $5/hog/year in lieu of taxes. Sometimes it is paid and sometimes it is not.

Mr. Homenuk suggested that pig barns do not make money, “if they did the government would not be involved.”   Joe suggests that we visit our politicians in the area and invite them to our homes once the pig barns are in. He suggests we take it very personally.   He urges us to be strong in our community and to persevere.


Q: Debbie Furber: Is it Mr. Possberg causing all the problems?

A.:  -Joe: Big Sky and Mr. Possberg.

Q: Mr. Penkala: Do the barns smell all of the time?

Joe: All of the time - it’s not the lagoon so much it is the exhaust from the barn. The pigs are fed a high protein diet that makes it worse. Evenings are the worst. My house trailer probably smells worse than any barn.

Question: Mr. Penkala: How do they keep disease out?

Joe: The trucks are flushed out when they come in and when they go out but this causes excess slurry.

Guest Speaker Ryan Calder (NDP Wadena-Kelvington)

Mr. Calder informed the group that the NDP is paying into hog barns and that he does not agree with that decision. He does not want hog barns in rural Saskatchewan. He, himself, has signed a petition opposing hog barns.   Mr. Calder believes in democracy - we should vote for whom we want – if we want to take a run at hog barns then he will take that run with us.  We need to invest money into nature, eco-tourism, into the right investments. He stated that we have fresh air and we have fresh water, let’s keep it that way.

Lisa Sharpen will book a hall for the next meeting, which will take place in Archerwill, Sk on July 27, 2003 at 2:00 p.m.  Meeting closed at 4:45 pm.

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Coalition Calling on Ratepayers in the RM of Barrier Valley to Stop the Hogs
The Parkland Review
July 18, 2003

Sharleen Syrenne of St. Front, Joe Homenuk of Weekes and Elaine Hughes of Archerwill discuss some of the resource material on hand at the Stop the Hogs Coalition meeting at McKague on July 6.  The public information meeting was the second of three slated for the RM of Barrier Valley where canvassers are now in the process of circulating a petition in an effort to stop an intensive hog barn development in that municipality.  Photo © The Parkland Review

The summer of 2003 is one that Elaine Hughes will never forget.  The Archerwill-area resident is spearheading a local effort to stop corporate hog barn development in the RM of Barrier Valley and, pointing to the ceiling in the McKague Hall, said that her learning curve related to the issue had straightened right out.

The Stop the Hogs Coalition, a loose-knit group of concerned residents from the rural municipalities of Barrier Valley and Ponass lake formed in April of this year, has sponsored a series of public information meetings, most recently held in Sylvania and McKague, with the final meeting slated for the end of this month in Archerwill, and is currently undertaking a door-to-door canvas of the RM of Barrier Valley with a petition to garner majority support for its cause.  The initiative also involves mailing petitions to 250 absentee landowners.

"The only time we have a hope in hell of stopping this is now, before the barn is built... if it goes ahead and it is going to go ahead unless we have a vote," Hughes informed approximately 30 listeners at the McKague meeting on Sunday, July 6.

"Reeve Quentin Hanson has been very supportive of the fact that he wants to have this settled in a democratic way.  I have to take him at his word on that and am happy to hear he's going like that because we all deserve a say in this," she said in announcing that subsequent to presenting the initial petition with approximately 190 valid signatures to council on two occasions, the two parties had agreed that a formal vote would be organized if 60 to 70 percent of the rural municipality's 701 ratepayers indicated opposition to the project by signing the petition.

Hughes has booked time at council's August 14 meeting to present the petition, but said that if the goal is not reached by that date, the group will continue with its mission and present the results at the next meeting.

Unconfirmed reports indicated that a hilltop location in Division 6 (west of highway #35 and north of the Kipabiskau road) may be one of the five potential sites for the 5000-saow, farrow-to-finish Big Sky Farms operation.  Hughes, who can smell the Tisdale alfalfa dehy plant and Prince Albert pulp mill if conditions are right, lives just west of Archerwill, a location which would be in the path of the prevailing winds and the stench as it follows the lay of the land on calm days.  She and others present at the meeting don't want the stink in their backyards, not do they wish it on anyone else.

"You knowing what's going on is the most important thing you can possibly do.  Inform yourself so you know what you're talking about and you know what other people are talking about," she said, referring listeners to the many handouts available at the meeting as well as the Hog Watch Manitoba website.

Toward that end, the local coalition has sought the support and resources of organizations such as Hog Watch Manitoba (Ken Sigourdson), the Sierra Club of Canada's Saskatoon/Parklands Group (Cathy Holtslander) and numerous individuals who have been involved in the same struggle in other communities.

Arriving in McKague from Buchanan, Isabel Muzichuk of the Concerned Citizens for a Safe and Healthy Environment noted the diversity of the land and agricultural enterprises she had seen along the way.  "You are doing it right.  We're not after family farms.  We want people who are raising pigs and cattle free-range," she said in her presentation that touched on numerous air, water, health, animal welfare and marketing controversies that surround the rapidly-expanding, industrialized system of producing pork, which involves contentious issues such as concentrating massive numbers of pigs in indoor housing arrangements, the use of farrowing and gestation crates, open-air lagoons for manure storage and the practice of injecting untreated manure into the land as fertilizer for crops.

"It's our tax dollar propping up this industry that's been so unsuccessful in other countries.  That's not the way to go," she said, adding that despite proponents claims that hog barns are here to stay, if they pollute the environment and devaluate property, people have rights and they must keep up the fight in this ongoing battle.

Based on her experiences lobbying against corporate hog barn developments in eastern Saskatchewan, Muzichuk, a retired nurse, offered Stop the Hogs Coalition supporters tips on how to further their objective, one of which was to educate and challenge politicians on their stand on the issue and vote accordingly.

Gearing up for a provincial election call, Ryan Calder, NDP candidate for the constituency, was in attendance and made his position known.  "I go into this with my beliefs and will win or lose on my beliefs.  i will not be a hypocrite," he said, acknowledging that even though his party promotes hog barns and, therefore, his personal convictions could mean a quick end to his political career, he chose to sign the petition against the proposed hog barn and is prepared to take a run at it with the group.

Isabel Muzichuk of the Concerned Citizens for a Safe and Healthy Environment was one of two guest speakers at the Stop the Hogs Coalition public information meeting in McKague last week.  Photo © The Parkland Review

Like Hughes, Muzichuk believes that it's imperative for people to take with their neighbours about the environmental and health concerns.  "Feelings will rise high.  Sometimes they call us names, but remember, this is not a popularity contest.  It's a matter of doing what's right and making sure we can keep the environment as good as it is and also watch our water supply.  You have to have a lot of tolerance and remember, the important thing is that you are organizing to make sure that people have the ability to participate," she concluded prior to fielding numerous questions from the audience.

Some people, include the afternoon's second guest speaker, Joe Homenuk of Weekes, question the validity of the approval and appeal process which he was a party to as an appellant at a hearing in April of this year after having filed a notice of appeal in July of 2002 with regard to SaskWater's decision in connection with his complaint against the operation of an artesian well to service two of Big Sky's ILOs associated with the Plains Livestock Hog Diversification Committee initiative in the RMs of Porcupine and Bjorkdale.  He asked that the well be saved for people rather than used for pigs.

Concurrently, on behalf of the Saskatoon Parklands Sierra Group, Cathy Holtslander, who will be the guest speaker at the July 27 meeting, filed a notice of appeal against an approval to construct works issued by SaskWater to Big Sky Farms for the development of the well in question, arguing that a comprehensive review of the impact of all of Big Sky's operations on the regional water supply should have been undertaken and an approved water source determined prior to SAFRR approving the development.

While the decision on the well was in Big Sky's favour, the board did agree that a region-wide approach to these projects should be taken to evaluate all water supplies and that in the interest of good public policy, the necessary water allocations should be in place prior to issuance of any approval to construct by SAFRR, which is responsible for administering the intensive livestock provision of The Agricultural Operations Act of 1971.  The board recommended that current legislation be changed to reflect this and the province consider giving a more defined role of Sask Environment and the Watershed Authority in the application, approval and monitoring for which they currently serve as referral agencies.

The experience left a bitter taste in Homenuk's mouth as does the bile that rises in this throat when the odour from the hog operation wafts across his property, which he told the group can be on as many as five days in any given week, making it near impossible for him to be outdoors to end to his own farm chores, is ruining the quality of the lifestyle his family chose and has left hem wondering who, of anyone, will want to buy their property.

"There's crookery from the top down and we have to start from the grassroots to clean it up," he alleged, citing further examples of the government subsidies in place support pigs rather than people, municipal tax concessions and environmental hazards trivialized by authorities, as examples of agricultural policy dominated by corporate greed and administered by a department that is out of touch with nature.

In January of 2002 North East Hogs, a committee of volunteer representatives from the rural municipalities of Tisdale, Connaught, Star City and Barrier Valley and the Town of Tisdale held a public meeting in Tisdale to gauge public opinion on a proposed hog barn development in the area.  In April of 2003, similar meetings were held in Archerwill and Rose Valley, as required in the permitting process for ILOs prior to submitting an application for approval to SAFRR.

A Wadena News article, suggesting that the project had received the necessary approval to proceed following the pair of meetings on April 9, struck a chord of panic and fear in residents opposed to the hog barn development, who felt that much more information was necessary in order for people to be able to make an informed decision and that a vote on an issue of such significance should have been by a democratic process, rather than at an event advertised as an information meeting.  As a result of a petition initiated by the coalition, the RM of Ponass Lake withdrew its support of the North East Hogs project.

However, spokesperson for North East Hogs, Economic Development Officer Doug Hay of Tisdale, stated July 10 that while two potential sites, one just inside the RM of Barrier Valley and one just outside the boundary, were identified a year ago, as of late, the committee has not been actively searching for sites and will not proceed to the geotechnical study stage until an adequate number of potential sites have been identified.

"There are no barns planned in any specific location," he said, noting that Big Sky Farms has about four projects further advanced that the Tisdale area proposal.

Coupled with the current state of the beef industry in the wake of the BSE announcement, which has also had an impact on the hog industry, Hay said that it could be a long time before anything proceeds.  "Everything has been put on hold until the livestock industry gets back on its feet," he explained, and even then, its fate will depend on whether or not Big Sky is still interested in expanding and in coming to the Tisdale area.

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July 27, 2003
Archerwill Hall - Archerwill, SK


THOSE PRESENT: Marie Murton, Rodger Doyle, Lisa Sharpen, Edna Johnson, Glenwood Johnson, Garnet Karn, June Prevost, Julien Prevost, Hans Peterson, Forest Holmes, John Booker, Wilfred Guest, Sylvia Robillard, Ernie Robillard, Mary Martin, David Brown, Gladys Miller, Darlene Guest, Rosaline Winnichyn, Lynne Prevost, Perry Hnetka, Audrey Hnetka, Glenn Angus, Lee Murton, Carol Garland, Tammy Doerksen, Dwayne Sharpen, Elaine Hughes, Cathy Holtslander

An introduction of all those present took place with each individual stating his or her name.

Elaine Hughes requested volunteers for chairperson.  Forest Holmes of Marine Lake stepped forward.

NEW BUSINESS: Elaine Hughes informed the group of the launching of the Stop the Hogs Coalition website known as which is up and running as of today’s date. The website is very informational, it offers a children’s link, a forum, a button for suggestion, donations and also a copy of the petition that can be printed, signed and mailed in.

At this time speaker Cathy Holtslander, an Environmental Researcher, with Sask Eco-net was introduced.  Cathy will be taking on a new position with the Council of Canadians very soon.  The Council of Canadians is a non-profit group that deals with things such as NAFTA, water issues and factory farms. Their goal is to make our communities safe for people, animals and our environment.  The Council of Canadians is a National Coalition.

Cathy let the group know that “our story” was a familiar story.  She stated that groups like ours helped to bring people together and to find better ways of fighting factory farms.  She said that our website was excellent and she felt that it should be linked to the Council of Canadians' National Website once it was up and running.  It would help to show comparisons to other provinces.

Cathy told us she would leave some contact numbers of people who would be of some help with us.

She stated that the Council of Canadian was at this time working on a special project called “How’s the Water?”  which is primarily about how hog barns threaten our water.

Cathy informed the group that she was going to focus mainly on the “smell & the economics” of hog barns.  She said that contrary to popular belief, hog barns are NOT the smell of money.  The barns are ventilated outside on air currents and the odor is very offensive.  She stated that how the manure is stored makes the smell even worse.  It is mixed with water and receives no oxygen, which causes bacteria.  Bacteria can be poisonous, people have died from inhaling hydrogen sulfide.  Ammonia is given off, this is also a contaminant and irritant.  She stated that our smelling senses are linked to our immune systems and our nervous systems.  People that have been exposed suffer from depression, headaches, diarrhea, etc.  She feels that the smell of manure forced on people is the equivalent of being assaulted.

Cathy stated that Smithfield’s (the biggest hog corporation in the world) grosses 6 1/2 billion per year.  Joseph Luter III of Smithfield’s declared enemies to be independent farmers & environmentalists.  Smithfield’s bought out Schnieder’s (Ontario), Schnieder’s bought out Mitchell’s in Saskatoon.  Mitchell’s invested in Big Sky Farms and Big Sky has contracted 80% of production to Mitchell’s.  Big Sky has been selling shares in finishing barns in 2000 they lost $640,000.00, which calculates to losses of approximately $100,000.00 per month.

Cathy asks, “Who is making money on these barns?”.  “Why is the Saskatchewan Government investing so much in Big Sky Farms?”  These are hard questions to answer.  These barns create very few jobs and all of the risk is going onto the communities where the barns are being built. 

Some of these  risks are odor, water contamination, road deterioration, etc. All of the profit is going to Smithfield’s not to Big Sky or the Government.  Cathy made mention of a book called Pigs, Profits & Rural Communities which is available at the U of S Book Store  -  she recommends it.

In closing, Cathy stated that she hopes the Stop the Hogs Coalition will help to bring people to work together and change the direction of Intensive Livestock Operations.

Question and Answer:

Q. Are you suggesting we return to small barns?

A. We have to look at what makes sense, maybe we shouldn’t be producing so many hogs and we should start letting people produce and feed themselves. 

Q. Can you draw a parallel from the UK to here?

A. We used to have a good marketing system.  It has been made harder for small farmers to get into marketing.

Q. Has anyone answered the question as to why the Government backs these operations?

A. Part of the answer has to do with dealing with the loss of the Crow Rates.  How do we deal with the shift in the grain economy?  The government started down this line  (hog barns) and now they don’t know what else to do or how to get out of it.

Q. What other issues are you looking at?

A. Cattle, chickens, fish, factory farming in general.

Q. What can we do to help you to help us?

A. Fight with all you’ve got.  MANURE STORAGE PLAN – ask people to not supply land for manure to be spread on, work together, make it a public issue, your website is great.  Build your connections.  Focus on community not being divided, this strategy  has kept barns out.

Q. How many acres do you need for manure spreading for 5000 pigs.

A. It’s based on nitrogen content, pig manure has a higher proportion of nitrogen than is  required, phosphorous you need 5 times more land than for nitrogen.  I do not have the number of acres.

Q. What is ratio?  Which barn produces more phosphorus?

A. Manure is variable - I don’t know.

Second Guest speaker Dr. Hans Peterson is introduced.  Dr. Peterson is a well-known hydrologist.

Dr. Peterson started studying the drinking water in Saskatchewan in 1987. He was and is studying the general safety of water in rural and urban areas. Dr. Peterson stated that “there is no more efficient means of spreading disease than putting bacteria into a water supply.”  He said that the cost to clean up water contamination is astronomical. In 1999 in Milwaukee it cost the US $25 Billion to clean up their contaminated water.

Dr. Peterson informed us that the Saskatchewan water guidelines are laxer than Canadian guidelines which in turn are laxer than most other countries’ water guidelines.  (e.g., Saskatchewan allows 5 times as much salt in water than anywhere else. The United Nations produced a report stating that 80% of all sicknesses are water related. “How much disease is caused in Saskatchewan or Canada by water?  No one can tell you, they don’t want to think about it.”

Dr. Peterson said that drinking water quality is a provincial issue, but how do you work on a mandate where a government only supplies $60,000.00 per year.

He stated that he has worked with Saskatchewan Water and that there are real challenges in Saskatchewan.  Only $5,000.00 per year is spent on research.  The lawsuits are 20 to 50 times the dollar amount spent on research.  This has to change.  The main problems are disease and this has many economic repercussions.

He went on to say that the US thought surface water was all they needed to worry about but found that wells were worse for viruses.  Hepatitis “A” has been found in US water.

Closer to home - Dr. Peterson stated that in 1999 a lady took him to Yellow Quill.  There was a boil water order in effect in 1995 and that boil water order is still in effect today.  He said the water treatment plant there was so full of hydrogen sulfide stench that he had to wait 10 to 15 minutes to enter.  He wrote a four (4)-page assessment in which he stated that Yellow Quill water was not suitable for human consumption.  He says that there is not enough water in the reservoir to meet community needs so it has to be hauled in.  He was told that every reserve in Saskatchewan meets water guidelines – he advises that they most certainly do not, some contain very high levels of arsenic, iron, ammonia and salt.  He states that Ketchum is the closest place to run a water line to Yellow Quill and that is 100 km away.

CBC did a documentary about what is now being done at Yellow Quill to purify the water.  He calls it “bug hotel”.  It is the use of an expanded clay filtration system.  It is Biological water treatment system in which they use bugs to clean the water, no chemicals.  He says the first filter takes out arsenic and iron, the second filter removes more arsenic and iron and the third and final filter removes the ammonia and whatever is left.  It is a very stable system.  This water also has very high salt and they use a membrane to get rid of it.  The membrane will not release any viruses.

Dr. Peterson says the Federal government is beginning to see the light in regard to water problems.  He also stated that he and his colleagues are presenting a paper on water treatment at a conference in South Africa in September.  

Question and Answer:

Q. How often is water source tested around hog barns?

A. They put pedometers near the lagoons, water pressure is tested and looking at chemical composition tests its quality.  It is only checked once or twice per year and the company is supposed to check it and report their results.  This information belongs to the company but the public can see it - if the company okays it.  There is no protocol for run-off.  If a field is injected one day and there is a rain the next day, the company does not have to do any type of testing.

Q. Is the concept, “bigger is better” correct?

A. We challenge that concept.  It needs to be shown that quality of life, health and economic viability is more important.  I don’t think the big farmer is more efficient or viable than the little farmer

Q.   How far can contamination and smell travel?

A. The distance the viruses can travel in the water system was astonishing. 

Q. How is human sewage treated differently than pig sewage?

A. With human sewage the pathogens are usually taken out before being dumped back into the river.  Municipal lagoons are shallower than pig lagoons, they don’t circulate and they aren’t natural forces.  There is more water in human sewage, it is not as concentrated as pig sewage.

Q. What about hydrogen as opposed to chlorine for water treatment?

A. Hydrogen is more expensive and is not as effective as ‘bugs’. 

Q. How long do you have to boil water to make it safe?

A. Two to five minutes.

Q. If we are against hog barns, what is a good alternative?

A. Look at major changes.  Let’s “brand” Saskatchewan as green.  Use an identity to promote products from here which are based on healthy, good environmental practices, natural and antibiotic free, organic, and ecologically friendly products. This could get the economy rolling in regard to health. 

Get small hog operations working together in regard to marketing and getting higher prices. 

In 1986 antibiotics were outlawed in Sweden in regard to intensive livestock operations.  ILOs suffered huge losses from disease, they had to promote the health of pigs.  They gave them free range. 

In Manitoba, the Humane Society developed a ‘humane’ label which was put on pork packages so the consumer has a choice.

Q. How do we produce enough food without intensive livestock operations?

A. ILOs offered such low prices for pork imported into Indonesia and the Philippines that the small farmers couldn’t compete and it put them out of business.  They need to feed themselves.

At this time Question and Answer period ended.

Elaine Hughes once again urged people to have their water assessed.  She said this will give you a base line of how your water was before “the barn” and how it is after “the barn.”

The video “Factory Farms - Corporate Injustice” was shown.

Meeting adjourned at 4:45 p.m.

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STOP the HOGS Coalition Launches Website
July 28, 2003

STOP the HOGS Coalition officially launched their web site at the Information Meeting held in Archerwill on July 27, 2003.  “It’s been quite a struggle to keep people aware and to give them the information they need to make an informed decision about this very important issue,” said STOP the HOGS Coalition member Elaine Hughes.  “That’s the reason behind the website - we want this to be a province-wide resource centre.”

STOP the HOGS Coalition is currently a group of concerned ratepayers in the RMs of Barrier Valley and Ponass Lake who are opposed to mega hog barns for their areas.   Members in the RM of Barrier Valley are currently working on a petition to have the RM Council allow the ratepayers to vote on a 5000-sow Intensive Livestock Operation being proposed for that municipality.

Speaking at the meeting, Cathy Holtslander, Environmental Researcher with the Council of Canadians, is very happy about STOP the HOGS Coalition website and believes that this will be a valuable resource for people all across this country who are struggling against mega hog barn development in their communities.  

Dr. Hans Peterson of the Safe Drinking Water Foundation, who is currently working on the water treatment system for the Yellow Quill First Nations Reserve, demonstrated the challenges and the cost of making their local contaminated water safe to drink.  He indicated that, over the long association he has had with Saskatchewan government officials, he has become very disenchanted with the lax and inconsistent water regulations in this province.>

“David Suzuki has said that the ‘ecological consequences [of hog operations] are enormous',” Hughes continued.“ Our group is determined that every ratepayer is given their right to a secret ballot on this issue. It is simply too big an issue with far too many negative implications for seven people to decide.  We all need a say in this.”

The Coalition’s website, contains factual information on the hog industry, intensive livestock operations, and the stories of many communities across Saskatchewan struggling with this issue.     

The Coalition is also committed to keeping their cause open and honest. To facilitate that, they have posted meeting minutes, the names of the individuals involved, and personal statements from the public.  There is also an open Forum on the website to encourage discussion.  (Complete minutes of the July 27 meeting will be included on the website as soon as they become available.)

“It is our hope that this website will reach more concerned citizens, and that together we can ensure our right to a democratic process is not taken away,” continued Hughes.  “I would encourage every ratepayer in the RM of Barrier Valley to visit the website, and, if they have not already done so, print, sign and return the petition calling for a vote.” Canvassers are also visiting ratepayers in a door-to-door campaign collecting signatures.

"Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral." - Paulo Friere.

Reeve Quentin Hanson has said that 60 – 70% of the ratepayers must sign the petition before the RM Council will consider allowing a vote to proceed. 

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Dear Editor,

I am one of a growing number of Canadian citizens that continues to be alarmed by the proliferation of pig factories in Canada, specifically in my area of east central Saskatchewan.  We are gravely concerned about the negative health, social and environmental consequences behind these operations – they are enormous.  One by one, our communities are brought under siege, each having to re-invent the same struggle to keep these ‘pollution shoppers’ out.  The Agricultural Act in this province has been designed to protect the factory operators, leaving the residents of the area with no power, no voice, and no recourse.

As incredible as it may seem, no independent Environmental Impact Study, or even an in-house environmental assessment, is required before the provincial government issues an operating permit to yet another animal factory.  "In practice, intensive livestock operations will rarely require approval under the Environmental Assessment Act."  (Legal Aspects of Saskatchewan Intensive Livestock Operations, Chapter 3 of "Expanding Intensive Livestock Operations in Saskatchewan:  Environmental and Legal Constraints", prepared by the Centre for Studies in Agriculture, Law and Environment (CSALE), University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Final Report to the Saskatchewan Agricultural Development Fund, Saskatchewan Department of Agriculture and Food, Regina, Saskatchewan by the University of Saskatchewan, October, 1996.

We need a government with wisdom and vision - not one that continues to defile our countryside as they squander our tax money on yet another mega-project, exploiting our precious water and defiling our beautiful countryside as they chase votes and the ‘quick fix’ dollar.  How is it that we dare to risk so much for so little for so few?  The earth is not ours – we are borrowing it from future generations.  Can we not stand – together – to protect it for them?

"Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral." - Paulo Friere.

Elaine M. Hughes
Archerwill, SK

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Stop the Hogs Coalition Launches a New Website
Tisdale Recorder
August 13, 2003

Stop the Hogs Coalition, a group of concerned ratepayers in the RMs of Barrier Valley and Ponass Lake opposed to mega hog barns in their areas, is persevering through the summer’s heat in its campaign to stop North East Hogs from establishing a five-barn, 5000-sow Big Sky Farms operation in their vast northeast neighbourhood.

The coalition’s newest tool, , was launched July 27 at a meeting in Archerwill, the final venue in a series of three successful public information meetings in little more than a month’s time.  About 90 people attended one or all of the events held in Sylvania, McKague and Archerwill, featuring well-versed speakers who addressed numerous controversies related to the hog industry; an industry that Saskatchewan’s agriculture minister, Clay Serby, acknowledged in a March 18 interview with a Western Producer reporter, that the government had pushed too quickly and would apply the lessons learned to its 10-year plan to develop the province’s beef sector as unveiled in the throne speech.

The intent of the open meetings and the website is to keep people informed about the fast-paced changes in the hog industry by facilitating learning opportunities and providing a forum for discussion on the issue that has polarized proponents and opponents, but left many on middle ground debating which way to turn.

The proponents believe that a hog barn would stimulate economic activity in the region by providing indirect and direct employment opportunities as well as offering grain producers a handy market and inexpensive fertilizer.  Opponents say that the short term gains are not worth the risks, and more so in light of the pending agriculture policy framework, of adversely affecting the health of residents and the environment, causing people to leave the area, and undermining family farms at the expense of producing a better quality or less expensive product for consumers, who in the long run, will be left to pay the costs associated with rectifying the damages.

The RM of Barrier Valley, is one of five municipalities (the others being the RMs of Tisdale, Connaught and Star City and the Town of Tisdale), with an interest in a hog barn project and representation on the North East Hogs committee.  It is also the municipality most affected by the fallout of the hog barn debate and, therefore, Reeve Quentin Hanson has stipulated that the coalition must show that 60 to 70 per cent of the ratepayers of the RM of Barrier Valley are opposed to the project before a vote by secret ballot would be considered by council.

Petitioners noted some resistance on the part of ratepayers, for varied personal reasons, to sign their names to a public document, but many have indicated that they would welcome the opportunity to vote their mind in a referendum.  “They have told us that they would vote no in a secret ballot, but if they don’t sign this petition, there won’t be a vote,” explained coalition secretary Lisa Sharpen, who is one of the most dedicated canvassers.

“Our group is determined that every ratepayer will be given his or her right to a secret ballot on this issue.   It’s simply too big of an issue with far too many negative implications for seven people to decide.  We all need a say in this,” stated Stop the Hogs chairperson Elaine Hughes.

Having presented a petition, with 192 signatures translating into about 25 per cent of the ratepayers of the RM of Barrier Valley who do not want the hogs, to council at its June 12 meeting, it was anticipated that the results of a second petition would be known in time for a delegation to present the list of names to council at its regular meeting on August 14.

The current petition, which can be downloaded from the website to sign and mail to the Stop the Hogs Coalition, states that the undersigned object to any kind of mega hog barn operation in the RM of Barrier Valley for the stated reasons that they feel that provincial or municipal regulations in place are not adequate, nor appropriate to protect the residents, the environment, or the land against the water and air pollution, increased health risks and other social costs of such operations and that the ratepayers will be the ones who have to bear the human and environmental costs of these adverse effects with very little economic gain attached.  The petition calls for the RM to hold a democratic vote by secret ballot to settle the very serious matter.

Earlier this week, Hughes indicated that the steering committee had made the decision to extend the deadline through summer vacation to September 1 for the more than 250 mail-back petitions sent to absentee landowners and should be prepared to present the petition results to council at its September meeting.

She confirmed that coalition members would be attending the August meeting to update councillors on the group’s activities to date.  Though the lines of communication have been kept open between the RM council and the coalition, North East Hogs has not been as receptive to hearing the concerns of those opposed to the project and turned down a formal request to open its June 19 meeting to the public.

Hughes said that the coalition is committed to keeping its cause open and honest.  “It is our hope that the website will reach more concerned citizens and that together we can ensure our right to a democratic process is not taken away,” she said in encouraging people to check out the factual information on the hog industry and ILOs, the stories of many communities across the province that are struggling with the issue, and participate in the open forum designed to give people an opportunity to voice their opinions, anonymously if they wish, in a respectful manner and contribute in a constructive way.

 Regardless of where people stand on the issue or in which municipality they reside, all submissions and stories are welcome.  Although those outside the RM of Barrier Valley cannot sign the petition they can become involved by visiting the website, sending letters of protest to councillors, politicians and chambers of commerce and attending meetings.  The coalition reminds people that pollution knows no boundaries between provinces, urban and rural municipalities, First Nations communities or resorts.

Hughes anticipates that the Stop the Hogs website will soon be linked to the Council of Canadians’ Beyond Factory Farming site, which will unite the provinces in a common cause to challenge the current mind set that bigger is better.  She noted that there are growing numbers of people among the general public, agricultural world and professional community who believe that there is a need to show that quality, health and economic viability is more important than size and that the little farmer is as efficient and viable as the big farmer.

As it has in so many other communities, the hog barn debate has divided residents in the RM of Barrier Valley and the communities within its boundaries, but coalition members remain committed to their cause and find encouragement in the words of thanks and donations they have received, as well as with the realization that people are listening when information they have passed on comes back full circle. 

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STOP the HOGS Coalition
Meeting with RM of Barrier Valley
August 14, 2003
10:00 - 11:10 am

As reported by STOP the HOGS Coalition:

Present:  Duane Sharpen, Glenn Angus, Doris Dewhurst, Sylvia Robillard, Barb Hagen, George and Eileen Chamberlain, Elaine Hughes, Keith Revoy

Elaine asked Quentin, the Reeve, if Councillors Bruce Thompson and Keith Braaten had declared their Pecuniary Interest since their names appeared as North East Hogs Committee members on the flyer circulated in the district on April 7, 2003.  Quentin said they hadn’t, that it wasn’t necessary until it came time to vote, and that he wouldn’t ask them to do so.  (RM Regulation 45(1)(a) and (b) state that if the Council member has such interest, they disclose that they have a pecuniary interest and leave the meeting while the matter is under discussion.)  Elaine then requested that he ask them, in the public interest, to remove themselves from the meeting on grounds of Conflict of Interest.  He again said that it wasn’t necessary until it came time to vote, and that he wouldn’t ask them to leave the meeting.  Elaine asked Fern to let the Minutes of the meeting show that she had asked the two Councillors in question be excused from the meeting and that they had refused.  Both Mr. Thompson and Mr. Braaten then went to great lengths to assure us that they weren’t Committee members, that they didn’t know their names were even on the flyer, and that they hadn’t given their permission to put their names on the flyer.  Mr. Thompson said we should consider the flyer a “lie”.   Elaine asked them to repeat this to make sure we understood each other and she indicated that she would get confirmation on this from Mr. DuWayne Lupien of North East Hogs.

Elaine asked Quentin why, if the Council was still in the “process of gathering information”, no one from the Council had attended any of STOP the HOGS public meetings in Sylvania, McKague and, in particular the last one in Archerwill on July 27, 2003, at which Dr. Peterson spoke about Safe Drinking Water.  She told them that Dr. Peterson is recognized internationally as an expert on water treatment and that an opportunity to learn much from him had been missed, especially in view of the proposed hog barns for this RM.  Quentin had no response.  Bruce Thompson said he doesn’t read the newspapers and doesn’t seek out posters.  (Posters, announcement in the East Central Connection, and on CJVR radio advertised the meeting in Archerwill on July 27.)  None of the other Councillors had known about the meetings.

Elaine then asked Quentin to explain to the delegation how a new bylaw on ILOs would affect the farmers who currently have small 100-200 head operations.  He said that it would immediately affect all of them.  She suggested that only those operations that apply for permits after it comes into effect would have to conform to the new bylaw, and that those already in operation would not be affected until such time as they apply for permit to expand.  He said that this was not correct.

Eileen Chamberlain asked how they could be sure that the hog barns wouldn’t pollute their water.  Quentin said that Big Sky promises that it won’t get polluted but if it does, he, Possberg, will replace it!

Duane Sharpen asked why the RM of Barrier Valley couldn’t do what the RMs of Pleasantdale and Ponass Lake have done – just say “No hog barns” and be done with it.  Quentin said they couldn’t do that.

Elaine asked Quentin if the Council had arrived at their final number of electors’ signatures for the purposes of the Petition STOP the HOGS is currently circulating.  He said that they would have to use the number of electors of 630, not the number of ratepayers of 560.

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Barrier Valley RM Notes
The Tisdale Recorder
September 10, 2003

Minutes of the regular meeting of the Council of the Rural Municipality of Barrier Valley No. 297 held in the Municipal Office in Archerwill on Thursday, August 14, 2003.

Present: Reeve: Quentin Hanson, Councillors: Brad Cramer, Bruce Thompson, Keith Braaten, Dennis Brown, Lynn Gruending and Wayne Jones, Administrator: Fern Lucas.  Councillor Brad Cramer and Bruce Thompson left the meeting at noon.  Councillor Lynn Gruending arrived at the meeting at 1:00 pm.

Reeve Hanson called the meeting to order at 9:10 am.

The following motions were carried.

That the minutes of the regular meeting of council held in the municipal office in Archerwill on June 12th, 2003 be approved.

That the statement of receipts and payments for the months of June and July 2003 be accepted as presented.

That the accounts, as listed and attached to, and forming part of these minutes, in the amount of $92,706.33, covered by cheque numbers 2483 - 2537 inclusive, be approved for payment.

Delegations: 9:00 am - Garry Schweitzer re work project update.; 10:00 am - Elaine Hughes, Dwayne Sharpen, Sylvia Robillard, Barbara Hagen, Doris Dewhurst, George Chamberlin, Eileen Chamberlin, Glen Angus and Keith Revoy re Hog Barns.

Spokesperson for the delegation concerned about the possibility of hog barns to this area, Elaine Hughes, asked that it be recorded in the minutes that the concerned group requested members of council Bruce Thompson and Keith Braaten to declare a pecuniary interest in the matter being discussed, and excuse themselves from the meeting.  The request was made because the group had misleading information that led them to believe that these two council members were also members of the North East Hog Committee.  The group maintained that sitting on both boards would be a conflict of interest.  Councillors Braaten and Thompson assured the group that they are not members of the North East Hog Committee, and they did not declare a pecuniary interest in the matter being discussed, and did not excuse themselves from the meeting.

11:30 am - Wayne Black re Submission to Financing K-12 Education commission.

1:30 pm - Gene Rusk re gravel

2:45 pm - Sergeant John Haley of Rose Valley RCMP re policing concerns.

That we accept the tender submitted by Kenneth McPhee in the amount of $310 for the purchase of Parcel L, a potion of SE 13-42-15 W2.

That we cancel the 2003 taxes on the trailer situated on SE 35-40-15 W2 (assessment roll #6132) as the trailer is no longer occupied, Mun.-$67.67, School-$76.08, Sasko-$2.31, Total-$145.76.

That we cancel the 2003 taxes for the months May-December on the residence previously situated on Lot 2, Block 5 in Algrove as the building has been removed, Mun-$294.00, School-$331.85, Sasko-$10.08, Total-$636.03.

That this municipality has no objections to the sale of Crown land SE 20-40-15 W2.

That we approve the application for subdivision of NE 07-40-13 W2, subdivision for agriculture.

That Wayne Black, on behalf of the Rural Municipality of Barrier Valley No. 397 be appointed to present a submission to the Commission on Financing Education from K-Grade 12.

That the correspondence, as listed and attached to and forming part of these minutes, having been copied and distributed, now be filed.

That this meeting adjourn at 5:35 pm.  The next regular meeting of council was on September 11, 2003.

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Hog Barns Still an Issue of Great Debate in RM of Barrier Valley
The Wadena News
September 10, 2003

Debate over the hog barns proposed for the Archerwill area continued this past month with a delegation of concerned people approaching Barrier Valley RM council during a regular meeting.  Although the minutes of the meeting do not state the purpose of the visit, it does state the group requested that a couple of councillors declare a pecuniary interest and leave the meeting during the discussion.  According to the minutes the request was denied because it had been based on incorrect information that two RM council members were members of the North East Hog committee.

Other delegations attending the August 14 meeting included Wayne Black regarding a submission to the Commission to Financing Education from kindergarten to grade twelve and Gene Rusk regarding gravel.  Also attending were Sergeant John Haley of the Rose Valley RCMP detachment who attended to discuss policing concerns and Garry Schweitzer regarding a work project.

Council accepted a tender submitted by Kenneth McPhee in the amount of $310 for the purchase of Parcel L, a portion of SE 13-*45-15 W2.  It was also agreed to cancel tax levies for the trailer situated on SE 35-40-15 W2 as the trailer is no longer occupied.  Taxes were also cancelled on Lot 2, Block 5 in Algrove because the building has been removed.

It has been decided that the municipality does not object to the sale of a quarter section of Crown land described as SE 20-40-15 W2.  It was also agreed that approval would be issued for the subdivision of NE 07-40-13 for agricultural purposes.

The municipality's next meeting is slated for this Thursday, September 11.  Current council members are Reeve Quentin Hanson and councillors Brad Cramer, Bruce Thompson, Keith Braaten, Dennis Brown, Lynn Gruending and Wayne Jones. 

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Wadena Council Makes Wise Decision
The Tisdale Recorder
September 3, 2003

Dear Editor:

The Wadena Town Council is to be congratulated on their wise decision to increase the distance restriction for ILOs from their community to TEN MILES!  It's very encouraging to have proof that more and more people are actually thinking about the negative implications of these pig factories, one of the most evident being, of course, the far-reaching stench of the barns and filthy open cesspools full of manure, that this province continues to permit.

Having the factories this distance from their community will help to decrease the negative effects on human health by (to name a few) the ammonia and hydrogen sulphide in the fumes given off by the cesspools and barns.  It will also put some distance between the community and the flies and rodents which frequent these 'high tech' atrocities.  Hopefully, the Town of Wadena has a secure water source which they will also vigorously protect from pollution by leaky cesspools and from the raw liquid manure spread onto fields and pastures surrounding each factory site.

This is a step in the right direction.  The Council's forward-thinking can only encourage other communities to protect themselves ahead of time against what seems to be an obsessive proliferation of our beautiful province with these dangerous and exploitative entities.

We encourage the Council in their future efforts to develop bylaws which will restrict and regulate this industry near their community, thereby protecting its people and the environment.  It's amazing what a little common sense can do!


Elaine Hughes,
Archerwill, SK

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Mr. DuWayne Lupien
North East Hogs
Archerwill, SK   S0E 0B0
August 18, 2003


Dear Mr. Lupien,

On the back page of your North East Hogs flyer announcing the meeting in Archerwill on April 9, 2003, the list of the Committee members included the names of Bruce Thompson and Keith Braaten, both Councillors of the RM of Barrier Valley.

At the RM meeting on August 14, 2003, both of the above-named indicated to us that they are not members of the North East Hogs Committee, didn’t give their permission to have their names added to the list of Committee members, and didn’t know their names were on the back of the above-mentioned flyer!

We find this confusing and, in the public interest, request that you confirm, in writing and at your earliest convenience, whether or not Bruce Thompson and Keith Braaten are members of the North East Hogs Committee as set out in your flyer. 

We would also appreciate receiving a complete list of all current North East Hogs Committee members.

Thank you for your anticipated assistance in this matter.

Yours truly,

Elaine M. Hughes
STOP the HOGS Coalition
Box 23
Archerwill, SK   S0E 0B0

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Minutes of the Stop the Hogs Coalition
Meeting with RM of Barrier Valley Council
September 16, 2003

As Reported by STOP the HOGS

Delegates from STOP the HOGS Coalition met with the RM of Barrier Valley Council on Tuesday, September 16, 2003.  Present were:  Dwayne Sharpen, Lee Murton, Carol Garland, Darlene Guest, Kathy Karn, Joan Kaiser, Elaine Hughes, Frances Davies, Sylvia Robillard, Roland Doerksen, and Debbie Furber from the Parkland Review.

Spokesperson Elaine Hughes requested that the Minutes from the August 14, 2003 RM meeting be amended from:  “The request was made because the group had misleading information that led them to believe that these two council members were also members of the North East Hog Committee”  to read:  “The request was made because, according to the North East Hogs brochure, these two council members are also members of the North East Hog Committee.”

Ms Hughes then informed the meeting that, on August 17, 2003, the Coalition sent DuWayne Lupien, CEO of North East Hogs, a Registered Letter requesting confirmation as to the status of Councillors Bruce Thompson and Keith Braaten:  are they members of the North East Hogs Committee as stated on their brochure or are they not?  Mr. Lupien has apparently chosen to not respond to the letter which, according to Canada Post, was picked up on August 19, 2003.  In place of Mr. Lupien’s lack of response, and in a final attempt to clarify the matter of conflict of interest of these two Councillors, the Coalition requested that the Council members sign a prepared Declaration, stating that they are not members of the North East Hogs Committee/Big Sky Farms Inc., have no Pecuniary Interest in the proposed hog barn development project by North East Hogs/Big Sky Farms Inc., and are not sitting in a position of conflict of interest with regards to the above-mentioned proposed hog barn development.  None of the Council members present would sign the Declaration.   Copies of the Declaration, the letter to Mr. Lupien, and the page of the North East Hogs brochure which lists their Committee Members, were left with the Secretary with the request that they be attached to the RM Minutes.

Keith Braaten then informed the meeting that he had represented the RM at North East Hogs meetings in Reeve Hanson’s place.  Reeve Hanson explained that, in order for the RM to best represent the ratepayers and to function effectively, he, in his role as Reeve, or his representative, attends many meetings, for example, the Hospital Board.  Ms. Hughes assured him that the Coalition understands and agrees that this is a necessary duty of the Reeve.  She repeated that the group’s concerns lie specifically with any conflict of interest or Pecuniary Interest of the two Councillors in question and with any potential of future financial advantage they may have as a result of being on both the North East Hogs Committee and on the RM Council.

Kathy Karn asked the Council several times if they are in favour of the pig barns, and finally, Reeve Hanson said, “Yes, I would have to say that we are.”   Councillors stressed that the proposal for the hog barns was brought to them, and in light of the potential for economic development, they could not dismiss it without due consideration.  She asked them why they would keep fighting for it, in light of the potential for pollution to our water and the terrible stench from the manure.  She told them that she lives in the Lanigan area, surrounded by hog barns and, whenever they open their windows on a summer evening, are forced to tolerate the suffocating stench of manure from the surrounding barns and cesspools.  She added that, in conversation with friends who live in the RM of Wolverine, she has learned that there have been no benefits to that community as a result of Big Sky pig barns in that area. 

As the owner of a cabin at Barrier Lake, she is very concerned that people will move out if a hog barn moves in, and subsequently, Archerwill will lose the patronage of the resort residents.  She is also concerned that there would be a huge drop in the value of their cabins because no one would want to purchase them.  She suggested that the RM commission an independent environmental study with respect to hog barns or consider alternatives for economic development, such as tourism.

She added that money talks and it seems like things are happening without people knowing about them.  Reeve Hanson stated that residents within the three-mile radius zone would be the first to know of any potential site because the North East Hogs Committee would need their signatures on an agreement before it could proceed to the testing phase.  Dennis Brown stated that he was not there to force a hog barn development in an area where people are opposed to one or to tell people they can’t have one in their area if they want one – as long as the bylaws and regulations are followed.

Carol Garland inquired how many jobs the hog barns would really create, relating that, in the past, she had been the only employee at a 200-sow operation.  

Lee Murton asked the Council what happens to the 3-mile limit set by this RM when a pig barn is built close to the border with another RM such as Pleasantdale, which does not permit pig barns.  Reeve Hanson's response was that the bylaw affects only the barns in the RM were they are being built.  From this, it would appear that the barn can be right on the border between two RMs and no allowance has to be made to ensure that it is 3 miles from the nearest neighbour in the adjoining RM.

Sylvia Robillard asked if Council had the authority to require that the manure be composted rather than stored as a liquid in a lagoon.  Reeve Hanson replied that Council probably could stipulate in a bylaw how the manure must be handled.  He went on to say that it is highly unlikely that any site within the RM will meet the geotechnical requirements because of the lake and river systems, high water table, and the sand/gravel base.  He stated that Council is not aware of any suitable sites identified to even begin the formal testing procedure and confirmed Doug Hay’s (REDA representative) August comments that North East Hogs has not been actively searching for sites as the project has been put on hold due to the BSE situation.  (The RM Newsletter received in July 2003 states that they (the hog committee) are investigating some potential sites; however, at this date, there are no approved sites in this municipality.)  

The Coalition then presented the RM with the Petition requesting the Council give the RM a vote to settle the pig barn issue.  It consists of  378 signatures representing 60% of the 630 eligible voters of the RM - a number specified by Reeve Hanson at the August 14 RM meeting they would have to get before the Council would even consider giving the people a vote on the pig barn issue.  After accepting the Petition, Reeve Hanson said,   “Of course you realize that we don’t have to do anything about this Petition.”  He asked for clarification that the Petition requested a vote by secret ballot and stated that he had never alluded to the fact that Council would automatically give a vote.  He stated that 60% gives them an indication of what people are thinking and he said the Council would check the Petition over to make sure that all the signatures where those of eligible voters of the RM, discuss it, and get back to the Coalition with their decision.   After several attempts to find out “when” they would get back to the Coalition, Reeve Hanson indicated that they would probably have that decision for the Coalition at the next RM meeting in October. 

As part of their presentation, the Coalition displayed a map of the RM (posted on their website: which clearly shows the number of people who signed the Petition and who want to settle the issue of the pig factories with a vote - in a democratic manner – the way Reeve Hanson has, from the very first meeting the Coalition had with him in May, 2003, indicated it would be settled.

Kathy Karn asked why keep fighting about it if 60% of the people don’t want it?  There was no reply to this question.

Lee Murton asked how, if a vote is not held, do residents get a say in this issue.  Reeve Hanson explained the process:  first, the three-mile radius bylaw requires their signature, then the geotechnical study determines if the proposed site meets the requirements, then a 30-day public notice gives people the opportunity to express their concerns.

During a general discussion, the Administrator asked the Coalition if they had considered the wording of the question should the Council decide to conduct a vote on the issue.  Both parties agreed that the wording would be critical and may serve to prevent future conflicts or the need to debate the issue a second time.  Reeve Hanson commented that the livestock industry is very important to the economy and a new bylaw restricting all livestock operations was not going to happen.
September 16, 2003


We, the undersigned members of the RM of Barrier Valley Council, hereby declare that:

  • we are not members of the North East Hogs Committee/Big Sky Farms Inc.;
  • we have no Pecuniary Interest in the proposed hog barn development project by North East Hogs/Big Sky Farms Inc.;
  • we are not sitting in a position of conflict of interest with regards to the above-mentioned proposed hog barn development.


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Minutes of the Regular Meeting of the Council of the RM of Barrier Valley
As Recorded by the RM 
September 16, 2003

Reeve: Quentin Hanson; 
Councilors: Bruce Thompson, Keith Braaten, Dennis Brown and Wayne Jones;
Administrator: Fern Lucas

Councilors Brad Cramer and Lynn Gruending.

Call To Order:
Reeve Hanson called the meeting to order at 8:10 am

Waive Notice of Meeting

Brown: That notice of this meeting be waived as per the attached signed waiver.


Brown: That the minutes of the regular meeting of council held in the municpal office in Archerwill on August 14, 2003 be approved.

Statement of Receipts & Payments

Thompson: That the Statement of Receipts and Payments for the month of August 2003 be accepted as presented.


Braaten: That the accounts, as listed and attached to, and forming part of these minutes, in amount of $206,671.13 covered by cheque numbers 2538-2566 inclusive be approved for payment.

10:00 am
Stop the Hogs Coalition consisting of: Elaine Hughes, Lee Murton, Dwayne Sharpen, Kathy Kern, Joan Kaiser, Frances Davis, Carol Garland, Sylvia Robillard, Roland Garland, Darlene Guest and reporteer Debbit Furber re presentation of petition asking that the RM arrange a democratic vote by secret ballot for the ratepayers of this municipality regarding the establishments of an intensive hog operation in this area.

11:30 am
Ken Klippenstine of SteelCor Culverts re culvert requirements.

11:45 AM
Fire Chief Larry Christianson re update of fire hall improvements.

Resignation of Councilor Div. 5

Jones: That we accept the resignation of Councilor for Division No. 5, Lynn Gruending, effective December 31, 2003.

Nomination Period

Thompson: That nominations for the purpose of nominating candidates for the office of a councilor for each of divisions 2, 4, 5 and 6 will be received until Monday, October 20, 2003 until 3:00 pm CST (Division 2, 4, and 6 will be for a two year term; Division 5 will be for a one year term).  That Fern Lucas be appointed as Returning Office and Nominations Officer and Aline Kozar be the Deputy Returning Officer and Poll Clerk.  The polling places will be the community hall in McKague for divisions 4, 5 and 6 and the municipal office in Archerwill for division 2.


Jones: That we acknowledge receipt of a petition signed by 378 ratepayers (60%) of the population of the municipality asking for the municipality to arrange a democratic vote by secret ballot for the ratepayers of the RM of Barrier Valley No. 397 to vote on the establishment of an intensive hog operation in this area.

Public Utility Easement

Jones: That the Reeve and the Administrator be authorized to authenticate a public utility easement granting the municipality an exclusive easement over, across, under and through those portions of land described as follows: That portion formely identified as roadway in a surveyed plan registered witht he Prince Albert Land registration district of the Land Titles Office (which registered plan has since discharged due to the transfer of the roadway bythe Rural Municipality of Barrier Valley No. 397 to the Grantors), in which portion is illustrated in red on the attached Scheule A, being a part of NW 30-41-14 W2, Saskatchewan Extension 0.

SARM Benefits Plan

Thompson: That this municipality renew the SARM benefits plan for employees and elected officials.

Cancel Taxes

Braaten: That the 2003 residential levy be cancelled from assessment roll No. 344, as it is 331 exempt.  Mun - 294.00, School-331.97, Sasko-10.08, Total-$636.05


Braaten: That the correspondence, as listed and attached to and forming part of these minutes, having been copied and distributed, now be filed.

Tax Enforcement

Braaten: That the Administrator be instructed to proceed with tax enforcement procedures as stipulated on the following properties: SE Sec 13 Twp 42 Rge 15 W2 Extension 4 and described on Certificate of Title 95PA04594, description 4 - Send Final 30 Notice; Parcel A Plan No. 101434812 Extension 18 as described on Certificate of Title 96PA04930, description 18 - Make application to Provincial Mediation Board for permission to make final application for title.

Intensive Hog Operations

Brown: That no intensive hog operation (intensive as defined under the Provincial Guidelines relation to ILOs) be established within three (3) miles of residences within the Rural Municipality of Barrier Valley No. 397, unless they have consented in writing that they agree to have such an operation there.


Braaten: That this meeting adjourn at 3:50 pm.  The next regular meeting of council to be October 9, 2003.

Correspondence as Copied and Distributed to Council
September 16, 2003

  • Copy of Executive Compensation of a large hog operation provided by Elaine Hughes
  • Beth Parsons re request for funds for publication of book on service men who lost their lives in WWII
  • Thank you from 4H Beef Club
  • Milton Harvey re dust control at Barrier Beach
  • NEAPTC re workshop on issues in Managing a Road Construction Project
  • Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food re conference on Manure and Odor Management "Environment in the Kyoto Age"
  • SARM re August 29, 2003 update
  • Leanne Hartman proposed changes to dietician services at Sasko Park Lodge
  • Canadian Nature Federation re proposed ILO at Quill Lake
  • Package of literature regarding hog barns submitted via Email by Elaine Hughes
  • William Wilson re road allowance East of Sec 3-41-13 W2
  • Jack and Berle McPhee re hog barns

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Petition Presented to Council
Letter to the Editor
September 19, 2003

Dear Editor,

At the regular RM Council meeting in Archerwill on September 16, 2003, delegates from Stop the Hogs Coalition presented their Petition to the RM of Barrier Valley Council.  The 378 signatures on the Petition represent 60% of the eligible voters of the RM, requesting that they be given a vote on the proposed mega hog barns for the Tisdale/Archerwill area.  To emphasize the significance of these 378 signatures, the Coalition displayed the map of the RM with the landholdings of the signatories brightly coloured in red.

At an earlier meeting, Reeve Hanson had indicated that they would need the signatures of at least 60-70% of the eligible voters in the RM before the Council would even consider giving the voters a vote on this issue.  Following the presentation of the Petition, Reeve Hanson said that, of course, the Coalition realizes that the Council doesn’t have to do anything with the Petition.  He also said that the Council would check it over to make sure all the signatures were legitimate, that it would be something they could discuss, and that they would get back to the Coalition, probably at the next RM meeting in October.

During discussion of this issue, Reeve Hanson was asked if the RM Council is in favour of the pig barns; his response was:  “Yes, I guess I would have to say that we are.”  He was also asked why would they be when we know about the stink and the potential for all the pollution.  His response:  “We are in favour of the economic development.”

“It isn’t that they can’t see the solution.  It is that they can’t see the problem.”  - G.K. Chesterton

Elaine Hughes,
Archerwill, SK

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Council Considering Petitioners' Request for a Vote on Hog Barns
Parkland Review
September 26, 2003

 The Stop the Hogs Coalition, a group of citizens from the RMs of Barrier Valley and Ponass Lake, now has proof positive that there are more than just a few people who object to intensive hog barn operations within the RM of Barrier Valley. 

A delegation of 10 coalition supporters attended the RM of Barrier Valley's regular council meeting on September 16 to present the results of a formal petition requesting that the municipality arrange a democratic vote by secret ballot for ratepayers of the RM of Barrier Valley to settle the very serious matter. 

Through a door-to-door canvass and mail-back campaign undertaken to contact all eligible voters in the RM of Barrier Valley, the Stop the Hogs Coalition garnered 378 signatures in support of its cause, representing 60 per cent of the population, which is the minimum that council indicated would be necessary before it would consider taking the requested course of action.

Though the RM council does not have a constitutional obligation to honour the petition request, Reeve Quentin Hanson said that the results definitely give council an indication of what people are thinking and are significant enough to put discussion about the issue around the table.

Up until now, due to the fact that the North East Hogs Committee has not yet been able to identify any suitable sites within the RM for the five-barn set up, the only time that the proposed 5000-sow Big Sky Farms project has been on council's agenda is when coalition representatives have attended previous meetings to voice their objections and concerns. 

Councillors reinforced the North East Hogs Committee's statement, that no sites have been identified and that the committee has not been actively searching for locations since Big Sky Farms publically stated that it will not be expanding its business at this time due to unfavourable market conditions as a result of the huge negative impact that the single BSE incident has had on the entire agricultural industry.

From his past involvement with a group that spent two years searching for a suitable location for a beef feedlot, Reeve Hanson predicted that it is unlikely, but not totally impossible, that a site will be found for a hog barn within the RM of Barrier Valley due to the high water table, sand and gravel texture of the land and network of rivers and lakes in the region, which are not conducive to intensive livestock operations, as determined by extensive geotechnical testing. 

Councillor Dennis Brown was among those who stressed that it is not his intention to force a hog barn through in an area where people don't want one, nor, short of making a bylaw against all intensive livestock operations, can council deny a development in an area where ratepayers want one if a appropriate sites are found that meet all conditions set out in the provincial permitting process and RM bylaws. 

While Saskatchewan Agriculture, Food and Rural Revitalization's Intensive Livestock Operations Regulations under The Agricultural Operations Act prescribe protocol governing hog barn development and operations in the province, each municipality is at liberty to establish bylaws that further regulate intensive livestock operations within its borders, including whether or not it will facilitate such developments at all.

The council of the RM of Barrier Valley, therefore, has the authority to establish bylaws in consideration of specific kinds of expressed concerns, such as the way in which manure is stored and processed.  It has already taken action to increase the "preferred separation distance", within which all residents must sign their names in acceptance of a proposed hog barn, from three-quarters of a mile to a radius of three miles. 

Reeve Hanson explained that the people who own land within a three-mile radius of any potential site would be the first to know about any movement on the project because, without their signatures, the North East Hogs Committee can not bring a proposal to council for consideration, nor can it advance the project to the geotechnical testing stage, which would determine if, in fact, it is a suitable location. Additionally, regulations require that a 30-day notice be posted so that the public is made aware of the intention and to provide an opportunity for people to express their concerns.

Even a three-mile separation distance is just not far enough to get out of the path of the suffocating odour said one worried opponent who lives near a hog barn operation outside the RM, but has a cabin on Barrier Lake.  She is also concerned about the effect hog barns will have on the sensitive water and soil conditions throughout the municipality, and, in turn, the devaluation of cabins and tourist areas and the resultant negative effect on Archerwill's economy if cabin owners sell out and tourists by-pass the area.

Coalition delegates nodded in agreement when she told council that she cannot understand why, when 60 per cent of ratepayers have signed the petition, council would keep up the fight, rather than moving on to investigate more promising and acceptable means of creating economic activity, such as expanding on the region's growing reputation as a tourist destination.

The question of pecuniary interest on the part of councillors who represent the RM of Barrier Valley at the North East Hogs Committee meetings, as well as the potential conflict of interest of council as a whole also came under review at the September 16 meeting. 

Though council has not taken a unanimous position on the issue because the North East Hogs Committee has not yet come forward with the required list of signatures and pursuant request to undertake geotechnical testing on any site within the municipality, Reeve Hanson said that he supports the development of livestock operations, including hog barns, just as he would consider any proposal said to create jobs and economic activity in the region, which, like many, is struggling to retain and attract families due to the difficulties experienced by the agricultural sector and loss of related infrastructure in recent years.

To turn down a $30 million initiative that promises to create 40 full-time jobs without giving it due consideration would not be in the best interest of the region as a whole.  With respect to representing the interests of the ratepayers of the RM in any matter at hand, Reeve Hanson explained that he and, or the elected councillors routinely attend numerous meetings of other organizations whose activities impact on the municipality and is puzzled as to why the coalition would not want council to keep informed about the proposed hog barn project.

Some coalition members felt strongly that, because of its expressed interest in the hog barn development, council is not in a position to represent the interests of those who oppose the project; therefore it was requested that each of the councillors sign a declaration of pecuniary interest and exclude themselves from discussions and votes on the issue.

Councillors refused to do so,  reaffirming that they had no pecuniary interest in the project that was not of their making to begin with.  In March of 2002, Doug Hay, director of economic development for the Kelsey Development Corporation (KDC), met with the council of the RM of Barrier Valley, which is one of the corporation's seven associate member municipalities, to discuss the potential for an intensive hog operation development in the area. 

At that time the KDC had already appointed representatives from each of five interested municipalities to form a sub-committee known as North East Hogs.  Original appointees include: Hay, in his position as director of economic development, Roger Armstrong (chair) of the RM of Tisdale, Cal Reid of the Town of Tisdale, David Morgan of the RM of Connaught, Larry Kozar of the RM of Barrier Valley and Garry Skjerpen of the RM of Star City. 

In an effort to improve the local economy, this group had met with Big Sky Farms to discuss the possibility of setting up a hog operation in the region. The prospectus presented to council indicated that, in addition to the aforementioned full-time jobs, there would be part time positions, 200 to 250 created during the construction period, and more in spin-off businesses, for a total of 300 to 350 new jobs, with an annual local payroll of about $1,6000,000.00. The advantages to local farmers would be a market for about 1.2 million bushels of feed grains annually, plus a source of cost-effective fertilizer for those within the  three-mile reach of the specialized slurry injection equipment.

Subsequent investigations to identify suitable locations for the breeder barn, nursery barn, three feeder barns and feed mill revealed that there were environmental problems coupled with a lack of community support in the other municipalities involved in the initiative, but that there was potential and interest in the RM of Barrier Valley.  On behalf of the committee, Kozar was able to gather a group of willing volunteers, representing varied interests across the locale, to pursue the possibilities in the RM of Barrier Valley and Ponass Lake. 

The RM of Ponass Lake withdrew its interest from the North East Hogs Committee when petitioners in that RM presented a case against the project in short order following the April 9 information meetings in Rose Valley and Archerwill.  Shortly thereafter, on May 20, the Canadian meat complex was thrown into turmoil with the discovery of BSE in one cow in Alberta and, consequentally, the economic development initiative came to a standstill.

"At this point, Big Sky is not moving any projects forward in Saskatchewan until it is happier with the marketplace, so, yes, that is a limiting factor," Hay stated September 19.  "If the company (Big Sky) thinks it can create a profitable business and wants to move forward, that will be its decision and we (North East Hogs) will facilitate its entrance if the community is willing." 

"We have not identified any sites mainly because we have wanted to be receptive to community stakeholders," said Hay, indicating that the North East Hogs Committee was set up to meet with stakeholders, receive questions, search for answers and, essentially, to represent community interests in this project and would be interested in meeting with the coalition.

Whether or not the Stop the Hogs petition will be the beginning of the end to a hog barn in the RM of Barrier Valley remains to be seen.  Reeve Hanson indicated that council would review the petition results and would probably be able to have an answer, as to whether or not it will put the question to a vote by secret ballot, by the time of its next council meeting.

In the meantime, the RM's administrator, Fern Lucas, asked coalition delegates if they had given any thought as to the wording of the question on the ballot, should council decide to go that route.  All present agreed that the wording and scope of the question would be critical.

Following the meeting, Stop the Hogs Coalition chair Elaine Hughes commented that the group is very pleased with the results of its efforts, that being to inform and educate residents about the hog barn proposal as well as to obtain signatures, and relieved that the time-consuming petitioning is now behind them, although it's still not too late for people to add their names to the list.

"However, we will not rest until the RM gives us a vote on this issue. The reeve said that they don't have to do anything about the petition, so if they ignore the 378 signatures we will continue our struggle in other ways," she reported, adding that, for now, they will wait for the decision of the RM council.

The coalition's minutes of the September 16 meeting with the RM of Barrier Valley are posted to its website at, while the RM submits formal minutes of its meetings to the newspapers in Wadena and Tisdale.

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