A decommissioned Calgary poultry processing plant at the centre of numerous controversies over the years is finally being torn down.
Crews started demolishing the Lilydale plant in the community of Ramsay, Alta., Wednesday morning, with a large crowd on hand to witness its demise. Most of them, like Robin Tufts, who moved to the community in 1992, are glad to see it go.
“It’s been a long time coming,” he told Global News.
“The plant was hard to live with. There was a lot of trucking, a lot of noise, a lot of light pollution and dust. And, of course, the odor from a chicken factory.”
The plant, which set up shop in the early 1940s, employed tens of thousands of Calgarians over the years. It has gone by other names and other owners but again, what never changed was the love-hate relationship many had with the plant.
“To see Lilydale gone is sad but it’s wonderful in retrospect,” Ramsay resident Joanne Nickiford added.
“It’s iconic to have it come down,” Greg Houston concurred. “Get rid of an old eye sore.”
What’s going in its place
Once the building is fully demolished, the site will be staged and prepped for the future development of Calgary’s $5.5-billion Green Line project.
The city took control of the former poultry processing plant site back in January 2022 after it expressed a desire to buy the land from Sofina Foods in 2017. The plant then moved to a different location in an industrial part of the city.
“For us, the biggest advantage of this acquisition wasn’t just for the LRT,” Green Line CEO Darshpreet Bhatti said. “It was really an opportunity for redevelopment. This is a pretty big site, as you can see. There’s lots of opportunities.”
Those opportunities are expected to include a mix of commercial and residential, something that sounds much better than a poultry processing plant to area residents.
“I think it’s time for the city to change,” Tufts said. “For this to be more of a residential and commercial neighbourhood as opposed to an industrial neighbourhood.”
“I’m thrilled for the new development to come through this area,” Houston agreed. “Looking forward to seeing the plans that replaces this.”
But with one controversy gone, another could be on the horizon.
The Ramsay Community Association has called for more clarity from the city about the LRT project’s construction and timeline, adding it hopes the noise and dust created can be limited.
“More details are needed from the city about the Green Line — exactly the routing of the Green Line and what that’s going to look like,” Community Association President Kolja Vainstein told Global News. “Especially those people really close to the Green Line.”
The plan for the Green Line is to roughly follow the existing rail lines that skirt the Ramsay neighbourhood with a station a couple of blocks north. It’s anticipated Green Line work could begin by late 2024 but officials said it could take five to six years to see an actual train come through.
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