Northwest B.C.’s sole egg producer has plans for a significant modernization project that could cost an estimated $10 million.
Daybreak Farms’ expansive project would replace or modify the egg producer’s three barns, move the feed mill to consolidate operations and replace the pit manure system with one that would see manure cleaned multiple times per week.
But before any work can take place, Daybreak Farms needs the City of Terrace’s blessing in the form of a zoning amendment. Manager Kieran Christison first presented her vision for the future to council in April 2021, and recently moved forward requesting zoning changes. That application was before council at its Feb. 14 committee of the whole meeting, where it received first and second readings. Staff will now schedule a public hearing.
According to Daybreak Farms, the upgrades would offer benefits to the community by mitigating the odour and flies associated with the operation’s waste. That is because with its current deep pit manure system, chicken manure is dropped into deep pits where it accumulates for six months before it is cleaned. That situation creates odour and breeds fly populations.
If successful in its application, the farm says that modernized barns would result in waste being removed several timer per week. Also, the plan is to transform 98 per cent of farm waste into sealable compostable pellets, which would further reduce odour and create a bagged compost product.
“I’m going to cautiously support this moving through first and second reading and to a public hearing, I think it is important for food security for our region to have such a significant protein producer in the north,” councillor Dave Gordon said at the meeting.
“The modernization plan should mitigate some of the fly problems, that’s really the only path forward I can see for this other than the closing of the facility,” he added.
The project would also see Daybreak Farms’ feed mill move from its current location at 4418 Eby St. to 4423 Eby St. The farm states on its website that consolidating its operations onto one site will reduce vehicle traffic crossing the street, and partially enclosing the feed mill will reduce noise.
The move to modernize comes with regulatory changes on the horizon. The Egg Board ruled that producers can no longer renovate and install conventional systems like the one at Daybreak Farm, and those systems need to be replaced by cage-free or enriched (larger cage with amenities) systems by July 1, 2036.
Residents in the immediate area have also been filing complaints about flies. Margaret Warcup joined the Feb. 14 council meeting to express her concerns with a 2021 decision by the British Columbia Farm Industry Review Board (BCFRIB).
Previously, Warcup and other residents submitted complaints to the BCFIRB regarding disturbance caused by Daybreak Farms in 2004, 2010 and 2020.
The board is a tribunal that hears complaints about farm practices. In its most recent decision, the panel found that the complainants failed to prove that the farm was the definitive cause of fly infestations, and also that Daybreak Farms conforms to normal farm practices.
Warcup told council that she cannot appeal the decision under current rules and alleged that the panel was biased in its decision. She asked the city to look at the decision and obtain transcripts to form its own opinion on the issue, and assist in the creation of a fly management plan.
Council voted to refer the issues to staff.