|"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.
Letter to the Editor
March 4, 2004
To the Editor:
I would like to comment on the
article “RMs locked in a dispute over hog barns” by Sean Pratt in the
Jan. 29 Western Producer.
…Mr. Alex Strilaeff, a former
councillor in the RM of Livingston, was removed from office on Oct. 6, 2003
by an order from the Court of Queen’s Bench.
Mr. Strilaeff was removed because of a conflict of interest…
As a result of the court decision, a
by-election was conducted and Mr. Strilaeff was replaced as councillor.
Mr. Mike Kalinowski was elected with 45 votes, Mr. Larry Kruk
received 35 votes and Mr. David Dykes received 20 votes.
I would point out that both Mr. Kalinowski and Mr. Dykes had
expressed their opposition to these Big Sky factory farms.
The vote was clear and decisive, over
65 percent of the ratepayers voted in opposition to the proposed Big Sky
barns. What is Mr. Possberg
talking about when he describes this as “minority wishes to push over the
will of the community?”
What is more shocking is Mr.
Possberg’s statement that Big Sky will consider taking legal action
against the RM of Livingston.
What would the RM of Livingston be
sued for? There are no
contractual agreements between Big Sky Farms and the RM of Livingston.
Given the circumstances, the council was obligated to review all of
the resolutions voted on by the former councillor who was removed by the
Court of Queen’s Bench…
The reason these barns were being
forced into the RM of Livingston was because the ratepayers of the RM of St.
Phillips did not want them.
I am sure that hog barns with 20,000
hogs located west of Pelly would quickly end the local enthusiasm for this
I am proud of the citizens in the
communities of Churchbridge, Calder, Foam Lake and the RM of Livingston who
have stood up and said no to Big Sky’s factory farms.
Swan River, MB
Big Sky Hog Barn Project Rejected by RM of Livingston
February 24, 2004
Municipality of Livingston in Saskatchewan recently rejected an
application by Big Sky Farms to set up a massive 120,000 animal-per-year
feeder/finisher hog barn project. The rejection, according to critics of the
project, is a major victory for ratepayers, farmers, the environment and the
downstream communities of Benito and Swan
River in Manitoba.
Sigurdson, NFU Regional Coordinator and spokesperson for a group of
concerned ratepayers in the
of Livingston, said the Big Sky hog
barns project posed serious environmental hazards. Sigurdson, whose home
farm is on the Manitoba side of the provincial
border, is also a ratepayer in the
Livingston. The RM
rejected the hog barns
proposal at its meeting on January 13, but the minutes of the meeting were
only released this past week.
January 13, 2004
minutes indicate the RM
also voided all the
resolutions that were previously passed in regard to the proposed Big Sky
hog barns,” revealed Sigurdson. “The council voided these illegal
resolutions because they were voted on by a councilor who was removed from
office because of a pecuniary interest.”
noted that provisions of the Municipal Act of Saskatchewan (Section 46)
allow the council to void resolutions voted on by a councilor in conflict of
interest. On October 6, 2003, councilor Alex
Strilaeff was removed from office by a court order from the Court of
Queen’s Bench. The court ruled that Mr. Strilaeff had a pecuniary interest
involving selling his land to Big Sky Farms. Mr. Strilaeff had not declared
his pecuniary interest and voted on these motions in support of the proposed
Big Sky hog barns.
has taken the
appropriate action and rejected these hog barns,” Sigurdson emphasized.
“This is a major victory for RM
of Livingston ratepayers and a
victory for ethics and democracy. The Big Sky hog barns have been rejected.
The council has brought back integrity to the democratic process in the RM
of Livingston by voiding all the
resolutions that were illegally voted on.”
concluded the RM
has now joined other
communities such as Calder, Churchbridge and Foam
which have all said no
to Big Sky Farms hog barns.
Barns Are Here; So is the Smell
Norquay North Star
February 18, 2004
I came across a flyer recently that
was distributed in the Livingston Rural Municipality in January.
The topic of discussion in this flyer was “How Great Hog Barns
Living in the RM of Livingston, we
have hog barns and a feed mill. The
villages of Rama and Invermay are both in this RM and this is what I have
observed: We have no new
construction of homes in any of the villages; in fact, there are some
vacant homes as well as vacant serviced lots for rent or sale.
Nor have any trailers made their way into these villages. The hotel
in Invermay was closed from spring to late fall.
The grocery store in Rama was for sale before the barns came and is
still for sale.
I live on the far west side of the
RM, and there are times when, due to the prevailing winds, we get our fill
of the unpleasant odours that come from the barns and open lagoons.
I can’t imagine living next door, and how refreshing it must be
with the constant stench coming from these barns day in and day out.
As for employment connected to the
barns and mill, there appears to be instability in maintaining long-term
employees. The public has the
perception of there being great employment when, in fact, people are
moving in and out of the jobs on a continuous basis.
Finally, if these barns are so
economically viable, we ratepayers should be seeing a decline in our mill
rate, not an increase.
of Justice Asked to Investigate the Activities of Big Sky Farms in the RM of
January 19, 2004
In a letter to Saskatchewan Minister of Justice
and Attorney General the Hon Frank Quennell, Kenneth Sigurdson a spokesman
for a group of ratepayers in the RM of Livingston asked the Minister to
“investigate the activities of Big Sky Farms”.
Sigurdson, a ratepayer in the RM of Livingston, noted that on December 8,
2003 Mr. Ed Weninger Project Manager for Big Sky Farms met with the RM of
December 8, 2003 council minutes on page 1 state:
Course met with council, Ed Weniger from Big Sky Farms requested approval to
bury 2 water lines to the three feeder barns. Mr. Orest Rosowsky, lawyer was
also with the group and advised council that there may be consequences if
council did not approve the proposed water lines.”
December council meeting lawyers have sent the RM of Livingston two letters.
These two letters directly threatened or indirectly threatened the RM with
legal action if the water lines or the Big Sky project is rejected.”
explained that councilors are given statutory protection and cannot be
successfully sued for carrying out their duties. Section 168, 168.1, and
section 169 of the Municipal Act outlines councils rights to make
resolutions and bylaws and the power to alter or revoke them from time to
time. Section 175 of the Municipal Act provides for fines of $2000.00 for
interfering with an agent or servant of the municipality. In addition
Section 123 of the Criminal Code of Canada outlines that threats cannot be
made against elected municipal officials.
action against the RM of Livingston would be frivolous and have no merit.
There are no contractual arrangements between the RM of Livingston and Big
Sky Farms.” Sigurdson stated and he requested that Justice Minister Hon.
Frank Quennell “ investigate these threats that were made to the council
of the RM of Livingston”.
request the Justice Department investigate these activities of Big Sky Farms
and take appropriate action to enforce the laws of Saskatchewan and the
criminal code in the province of Saskatchewan” Sigurdson concluded.
First I should give a bit more background. The
hog barns in the RM Livingston were initiated three years ago. Last summer
the RM council rejected water lines to these barns (from the Swan River)
and did so again this December. I am a ratepayer in the RM of Livingston
and I live in Manitoba. Last summer we removed a councilor in conflict of
interest and elected a councilor opposed to the hog barns Mr. Mike
Kalinowski. This gives us 3 votes to 2 on council.
The proponents come out of the RM of ST.
Phillips and the west side of the RM of Livingston. The proponents all
live up wind and up stream of course. This project to include two
RM's. the sow barn and nursery barn are proposed for St Phillips and the
three finisher barns and feed mill are to be located in the RM of
Livingston (the heavy truck traffic).
The reason these barns are in Livingston is
because they could not find a home for them The people of St.
Phillips didn't want them, however they are threatening legal action if
Livingston defeats the barns.
The council now understands that any legal
action would be is frivolous and by issuing these kind of threats
the town of Pelly and St. Phillips could be charged under the Municipal
To get the project underway The RM of St.
Phillips put up $20,000 and the RM of Livingston put up $20,000 (not
budgeted for) the town of Pelly put up $10,000 the Kamsack credit union
donated $5,000.00. This is to be repaid by Big Sky when the barns are
built. A CARDS grant and a REDA grant were also given to
this project. The Lac La Course Hog committee has a bank loan with the
Kamsack credit Union.
The barns are in danger of going down in
Livingston. This will be a lifelong embarrassment to the people who wasted
the Communities money. These are not nice people they deal in threats and
intimidation. At the December council meeting 35 of them came in in five
different delegations and even brought a lawyer to threaten legal action
against the RM. They swore at Mike Kalinowski and threatened the Reeve on
numerous occasions. One councilor was sick and this left the vote 2 to 2
They then brought in a petition demanding a meeting under section 48 (2)
of the Act this was the meeting that I describe in the letter.
I believe the council will deal with this
tomorrow at the council meeting. It looks good.
Our next project will be to have Sask Ag and
Food remove their approval of this project. This project has been approved
without the water lines and without the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority
approving it. This is illegal. I believe Sask Ag and Food intends to keep
the approval in place and hope for a change in reeve in the fall election.
Hope this helps you understand this better.
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Letter to the RM of Livingston
January 8, 2004
Dear Mr. Assoignon
As a ratepayer in the RM of Livingston I would like to state my
objections to the meeting held in Arran Saskatchewan on January 5, 2004.
This meeting of voters was called under section 48 (2) of the Municipal
Act of Saskatchewan.
I would first like to thank the Reeve Mr. Gerald Assoignon and the RM
Administrator Mr. Mike Burtnack for outlining the proper process for
conducting this meeting. The proper democratic process was not followed in
conducting this meeting and vote.
My objections to the meeting are as follows:
- The chairman rejected the information provided to him on the proper
conduct of this meeting and the chairman did not conduct this meeting in
accordance with Roberts Rule of Order.
- The chairman was the reeve of the RM of Clayton. As an elected public
official the reeve (chairman) did not follow the Municipal Act of
Saskatchewan even when informed of the provisions of the Act. When this
was pointed out to him, his response was that he was there to conduct a
- No one authorized the chairman to conduct a vote he was elected
chairman to conduct the meeting.
- The voters did not approve the vote that took place at the meeting.
There was no resolution to conduct a vote.
- The voters did not approve the two questions being asked. There was no
resolution approving the questions.
- There were two questions being asked. The chairman arbitrarily put
them forward. The vote on the second question was to be counted if the
first question failed; again this decision was arbitrary and not
approved of by the meeting.
- The chairman prevented other issues from coming forward. This was to
be a public meeting called under the Municipal Act of Saskatchewan,
ratepayers were denied their democratic rights.
- There were two scrutineers elected from the meeting. This is totally
inappropriate. Candidates choose scrutineers or they are representatives
of each side on an issue. The scrutineers were both proponents of the
question being asked.
- The proponents of the issue being discussed did the voter
identification. Many people who voted were not ratepayers or residents
of the RM. These qualifications to vote were not met in many cases.
- The proponents printed the ballots, distributed the ballots, outlined
the voting procedure, and counted the votes. The meeting did not give
them the authority to do any of these things.
This kind of meeting- voting process is very offensive to those that
believe in proper democratic procedure and proper voting procedures. In a
democratic society we should not give this kind of flawed manipulated
process or the result any credibility.
For your council to take any results from this process would be to
validate this undemocratic meeting and voting procedure.
For the Concerned Ratepayers of Livingston
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May 22, 2003
To the Editor:
How unfortunate that, at this point in time, our farm
(NE 18-35-31-W1) is located in the rural municipality of Livingston 331 in
the Pelly area of Saskatchewan. Why
is it unfortunate, you may ask?
One of the proposed feeder hog barns is to be located
within four miles of our farm residence.
Secondly, another proposed feeder hog barn site (SW
8-35-31-W1) will be one and one-half miles from not only our farm residence
but also from our private well that supplies our drinking water.
Thirdly, we didn’t put 20 years of hard work, effort
and money into beautifying our farm site to have two hog barns plunked down
in our backyard. Since these
barns do devalue one’s property, all our time, effort and finances to
improve our farm will have been in vain…
We do not wish to experience what ratepayers and
residents are experiencing in the RMs of Preeceville 334, Buchanan 304,
Invermay 305 and Hazel Dell 335. Why
should I sacrifice my health and the health of my family, especially that of
my daughter who has asthma, for an economic enterprise that will benefit a
minority at the expense of the majority?
Why should I be singled out to no longer be able to
enjoy being outdoors and why should I be forced to keep all of our doors and
windows closed because of the pig odour?
I do not look forward to the constant traffic, noise, dust and
deterioration of our municipal roads. Neither
do I want to deal with an increase in rodents, skunks, flies and coyotes.
Why should our well water test unsafe for human
consumption? Will my children
and grandchildren refuse to visit us under these circumstances?
What right does the RM of Livingston 331, Lac La Course
Hogs Inc., Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food, and local proponents have to
punish us by making us prisoners within our own home?
If the promoters and supporters in the RMs of
Livingston 331, St. Philips 301, Clayton 333, and Keys think that these
barns are so good for the community, why aren’t they allowing the barns to
be built in the vicinity of their farm residences?
Surely, what is good for the goose is also good for the gander…
In order to retain its credibility – whatever remains
of it – I advise Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food to put a hold on these
hog operations in the Pelly area until all issues are resolved.
I urge Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food, Saskatchewan Municipal
Affairs, and Saskatchewan Justice and Intergovernmental Affairs to conduct a
thorough and far-reaching investigation into the irregularities within the
RM of Livingston 331 and into the flawed public process used by Lac La
Course Hogs Inc. and Big Sky Farms.
Unless these government departments pursue such a
review, they will be seen as abetting in processes and procedures that are
not democratic, not honest, not transparent, and not fair.
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of Queens Bench Removes Councilor from the RM of Livingston
A by election is being held in the RM of Livingston
(Arran Sask.) on November 26, 2003 to replace Councilor Alex Strilaeff who
was removed from his council position by an order from the Court of Queens
Bench. The court ruled that Mr. Strilaeff had a pecuniary interest in
matters before the council, namely possible financial profit from decisions
on the development of NW ¼ 33-34-30, hog barns, Lac La Course Hogs Inc. and
Big Sky Farms. The Court of Queens bench ruled that Mr. Strilaeff failed to
disclose his interest contrary to section 45 of the Municipal Act. The court
further ruled that the seat being Division 1 of the RM of Livingston be
vacant and the respondent Mr. Stifaeff is disqualified from holding office
in the municipality for a period of three years.
Kenneth Sigurdson the applicant who initiated the
action and a ratepayer in the RM of Livingston stated “ This is a major
victory for citizens in the RM of Livingston. A new council can now review
all of the resolutions voted on by Mr. Strilaeff relating to the proposed
Big Sky Farms hog barns”.
“The decision by the former council to provide Big
Sky Farms with a loan of $20,000.00 can also be examined. The money was not
even budgeted for by the RM. This loan was subsequently given to Lac La
Course Hogs Incorporated without a loan agreement being put in place”
Sigurdson revealed. “It is also up the RM of Livingston to follow the
democratic decisions of the ratepayers who said no to hog barns at public
meetings three years ago.
Sigurdson went on to say that the upcoming by
election is very important for citizens across the border in Manitoba as
well. The community of Benito some four miles away and the Thunderhill Ski
Hill will be impacted from odor and the stench from the proposed hog barns.
“The proposed hog barns triple the livestock
numbers in the Swan River drainage basin, so the water and environment would
be impacted. It is not acceptable to impact citizens and environment
downstream and down wind of these operations ”, Sigurdson emphasized.
“What are the implications for the water quality
in the Swan River?” Sigurdson questioned. “ Many rural residences depend
on the water from the Swan River and the aquifer in the town of Swan
“We don’t want boil water notices in our town
and community.” Sigurdson emphasized.
Sigurdson stressed the importance of restoring
democracy and fair play to the RM of Livingston and he noted that the
previous council was plagued by irregularities discrepancies and conflict of
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Q.B.G NO: 268
OF A.D 2003
IN THE QUEEN'S BENCH JUDICIAL CENTRE OF YORKTON BETWEEN:
SIGURDSON APPLICANT -and-
ALEX STRILAEFF RESPONDENT
BEFORE THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE
“D.P. Ball” IN CHAMBERS
On Monday, the 6th day of October, 2003
UPON THE APPLICATION of KEN SIGURDSON, and upon hearing read the
proofs of service upon ALEX STRILAEFF, the Affidavit of Ken Sigurdson, the
Affidavit of Mike Kalinowsky, the Consent filed by counsel on behalf of
Alex Strilaeff and counsel on behalf of Ken Sigurdson to this Order, all
filed, and the record of the Court in regard to this matter, IT IS HEREBY
ORDERED pursuant to s. 45(4) of the Rural Municipality Act, 1989, THAT:
1). The Respondent, Alex Strilaeff has contravened s. 45 of the
Rural Municipality Act, 1989, in that he held a pecuniary interest in
matters before the Council, namely possible financial profit from
decisions on the development of NW 1/4 33-34-30 W1st, hog barns, Lac La
Course Hogs Inc., and Big Sky Farms Inc., which he failed to disclose
contrary to s. 45(1)(a),
failed to leave the meeting while the matters were under discussion
contrary to s. 45(1)(b), and did attempt to influence the voting on such
questions contrary to s. 45 (2);
2). The seat held by the Respondent Alex Strilaeff,
being Division I of the R.M.
of Livingston No. 331 be vacant; and
3). The Respondent, Alex Strilaeff is disqualified
from holding office in any municipality for a period of three years from
the date of this Order.
Each party shall pay their own costs in regard to this motion.
THIS ORDER prepared by:
MERCHANT LAW GROUP
Solicitors for the Applicant
4 - 3rd Avenue North
YORKTON, SK S3N 1B9
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