Petition raising a stink about mink
Fur farmer says expansion plans address common complaints
Some cabin owners and residents of the Placentia Junction area think a proposal to build a mink farm off the Argentia Access Road stinks.
That’s according to John Devereaux, a St. John’s man whose family owns a cabin near the proposed site. He said cabin owners and full-time residents in the area are very much against the plan.
“You’ve got all these people who have built up their cabins for them, for their generation, for their kids, and now you’ve got someone coming in building this big industry right next door, which is going to ruin what they’ve built up,” he recently told TC Media.
Viking Fur Inc., which operates a mink fur farm in Cavendish, plans to expand its operations by building a new farm about 10 kilometres south of the Trans-Canada Highway.
The land covers 165 hectares and is already used for agricultural purposes.
“You won’t be able to sit out on your deck because of the flies,” said Devereaux. “You won’t be able to sit out because of the stink. You won’t want to go up if any mink escape, which they often do. That’ll affect the local bird population; it’ll affect poultry farms in the area.”
The proposal is the subject of an environmental review. The original deadline to submit public comments was Dec. 31, 2014, however, the Department of Environment and Conservation announced that same day it was extending the deadline to Jan. 16, 2015.
Viking Fur president Peter Noer told TC Media he is aware of the petition and the concerns it raises.
He said to address the odor and fly issues, the company installed a $2.2-million system at the Cavendish location this year, essentially turning the farm into an enclosed liquid manure system. The plan is to implement the same system at the new farm, too.
“That has just been implemented this year now, so it’s sort of outside the fly season, but our experience with similar systems overseas seems to eliminate the fly issues dramatically.”
As for the smell: “of course, at certain times when the wind is in the right direction, and in the spring when we’re hauling out the manure out on the hay land, you will be able to smell it. I would be lying if I said you couldn’t smell it.”
He said the farm will be enclosed with a solid fence to prevent mink from escaping the farm, and pointed out that mink are natural to Newfoundland.
“I’ve been here 10 years and there was a lot of mink on the island before I came, in the wild, and farmed mink as well,” he said.
To those against the practice of raising mink for fur, Noer said the industry is strictly regulated in Canada, and Viking Fur operates within the rules. He said the company is open about its business, and anyone is welcome to get in touch.
“If you have a chicken farm, or a cow farm, or a mink farm, you have to be open and honest, and be proud of what you’re doing and show it to the public so ... at any given time you can have anybody in seeing what you’re doing,” he said.
Viking Fur expects more than 20 jobs would be created by the expansion.
But Devereaux says the province just doesn’t need to invest in mink farming.
“We’re a province who claims value in new things and innovative things, but mink farming isn’t either of those things. It’s not new and it’s not innovative. So I don’t think we need to invest and promote in this industry when we could be doing lots of other things that would be better for everyone involved,” he said.
“If it gets built, it’ll negatively impact everyone who lives and resides and spends time in that area and I can’t think of anyone who would want this industry near them.”
Environment and Conservation Minister Dan Crummell is scheduled to announce his decision on the project by Jan. 19
A proposed mink farm near the Placentia Junction area is now the subject of an online petition encouraging the provincial government to reject Viking Fur’s application to use a 165-hectare property.