Birds Hill-area Manitoba residents oppose pharmaceutical manufacturing facility

An empty field off Highway 59 has been Colin Zelinsky’s bedroom view for 13 years.

The 42-year-old lives in Pineridge Village Mobile Home Park near Birds Hill Park and loves it.

“We want to live out here. A lot of people grew up in the country. This is decent low income affordable housing which people need,” Zelinsky said.

But last week, people living in the community of roughly 1,000 say they were shocked to find flyers in their mailbox about a proposed pharmaceutical manufacturing facility.

“A lot of residents in our community were very upset and shocked,” Zelinsky said.

A meeting requesting community input was held just two days later.

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“We did try and attend. We showed up about five minutes late and there were people lined up outside the door. It was packed. It was crazy,” Nicole Goossem, local resident and mother of two, said.

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The proposed development would be a $120-million investment expected to create 1,000 jobs. Operated by Mittall Canada, the facility would manufacture drugs like insulin and naloxone.

But area residents are strongly opposed.

“It’s the backyards of a lot of people in the community. I think it would seriously affect the environment. We are just down the road from a provincial park,” Goossem said.

Zelinsky adds area infrastructure would have to change, among other concerns.

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“The noise pollution, just the pollution in general,” he said.

A representative from Mittall wasn’t available for an interview Monday.

But in an online video, the company says the site is a strategic location with Winnipeg being centrally located and the site having desired amenities.

“The site offers robust sewer infrastructure. Crucial for seamless wastewater management and regulatory compliance allowing for focus on innovation and production excellence,” the video says.

Mittal is also seeking grants from the provincial and federal governments to help fund the project. The proposal is still in its early phases and would need various development and zoning approvals from the R.M. of St. Clements.

As for local residents, they say they will oppose the project every step of the way.

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“They would basically be, I believe, pushing us out of our neighborhood,” Zelinsky said.

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