Workers in hazmat suits haul 8 tonnes of spoiled meat from North Bay, Ont., butcher shop-صحيفة الصوت


A hazmat-suited cleanup crew is expected to finish hauling away over eight tonnes of rotting meat Thursday from an abandoned butcher shop in North Bay, Ont. 

Doors of the Bavarian Meat Products have been shuttered since October 2021. The owners left behind hooks, freezers and shelves filled with meat, which has attracted swarms of flies and created a stench that wafts through the neighbourhood.

David Ladouceur, owner of Winmar Property Restoration, said his team was hired by the property owners to clean up the mess, and had already hauled away tonnes of meat. He likened the total to filling up about seven 20-cubic-yard dumpsters. 

“I’m certain that people out there have had a freezer that died on them and the contents of that freezer have spoiled,” Ladoucer said. “You then get an idea of what that’s like — the smells that come across it, the way things start to look after a certain period of time.

“Except this is 14,000 square feet.”

Geared up

Ladouceur’s crew donned full personal protective equipment (PPE) for the operation — Tyvek suits, chemical-resistant rubber boots, nitrile gloves under mechanics’ gloves, all fully taped. Crews also wear full face respirators that block 99 per cent of the odour, Ladouceur said. 

“They’re geared up, but they’re not wearing suits that are keeping them cool by any stretch of the imagination.” 

The property owners who hired Winmar — land registry documents connect it with 2471859 Ontario Inc., a numbered company from Oakville, Ont. — were finally pressured by city hall to remove the meat after neighbours complained about the hordes of flies that also began invading a nearby auto-body shop.

CBC Sudbury is trying to locate the property owners. It’s not immediately known why the butcher shop was abandoned.

Nobody wanted this project. But I reminded my team — we clean up floods, we clean up sewage, we clean up mould, we go into fires, we’ve done trauma cleanup, we’ve done COVID cleanup.– David Ladouceur of Winmar Property Restoration about spoiled-meat cleanup

Ladouceur said his crew had to team up with a pest-removal company to get rid of the swarm, a process that took a few hours. After the site was cleared of insects, workers were able to cut a walking path through the facility. 

“Nobody wanted this project,” Ladouceur said. “But I reminded my team — we clean up floods, we clean up sewage, we clean up mould, we go into fires, we’ve done trauma cleanup, we’ve done COVID cleanup.”

“And I just told the team, ‘This is something that nobody in town wants to do, but it needs to be done.'”

Ladouceur said crews — who have been working day-long shifts in excruciating heat — have all returned in good spirits.

“They were joking, laughing. I mean, they’re working right through it,” he said. “They’re just trudging right through it like troopers. And I mean, give them all the credit. They haven’t shown any signs of negativity, and it’s been full steam ahead.

“And you know what? When we’re done, we’re done.” 

City hall gets involved

North Bay Deputy Mayor Tanya Vrebosch said she and her father, Coun. Bill Vrebosh, worked every day for three weeks “stickhandling” the situation between frustrated neighbours and an owner who lived out of town.

“We could not find any way inside because the city has no jurisdiction inside the building,” she said. “We tried going inside under property standards or bylaw. But we had no jurisdiction going inside a building where there was no building code violation.”

Eventually, when diplomacy seemed to fail, the deputy mayor said she felt forced to “shame” the property owners by getting local media involved.

“It’s a step where we tried our best to get in touch with owners, but we weren’t getting anywhere,” she said.

Tanya Vrebosch, deputy mayor for North Bay, says she and others at city hall dealt with complaints from people around the butcher shop harbouring the spoiled meat. (Submitted by the Ontario Liberal Party)

“So now, the building’s up for sale. And we said it’s time to do the story now. We’ve done everything we can. We can’t find a way in to clean this legally.

“Now it’s time to shame the owner to say, ‘You know what? This is what you’re doing to the neighbourhood and to the business owners. It’s time to clean it up.'” 

Bill Vrebosch said it’s an example of how municipalities can sometimes be hamstrung by restrictive laws.

“It’s an absentee landlord type of thing,” he said. “I mean, it shows you there’s no local control.”

Vrebosch, whose wife once owned another Gravelle’s Butcher Shop, another large shop in North Bay, said the new owner of the building should bear some responsibility for what’s inside.

“The day he decided to put the lock on … [he] should have given the meat away to somebody, even given to a soup kitchen or to help a family situation.

“But they just let it waste.”

To the dump

Ed Francouer, supervisor of North Bay’s landfill, confirmed the spoiled meat is destined for the site, where it will be treated and covered. He estimated the load weighs around eight tonnes, with more expected to arrive in the coming days.

“You could smell it before it got here,” Francouer said. “And flies, everywhere.”

Transport crews drove in pressurized cabins and wore PPE to keep the stench at bay, he added. 


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