After years of complaints about foul odour, Montreal animal rendering plant to retrofit facility

The Sanimax Rivière-des-Prairies animal rendering plant has for years been the source of odour complaints from nearby residents. (CBC - image credit)
The Sanimax Rivière-des-Prairies animal rendering plant has for years been the source of odour complaints from nearby residents. (CBC - image credit)

An animal rendering plant in Montreal's east end has drawn complaints from residents for years, be it about the strong smells or entrail spills.

"[It's] horrible," resident Roberto Molinaro said of the odour. "It's like rotten pigs and eggs."

And it's not just residents complaining. Montreal fined the company tens of thousands of dollars for violating local air and water purification regulations, and when Sanimax tried to fight those fines in court, it ultimately lost in 2022.

Two years later, a deal has been struck between the city, the province and the company to retrofit the facility with improved animal parts storage and air purification, Montreal announced Monday.

Located in the Rivière-des-Prairies–Pointe-aux-Trembles borough, the agreement includes designating the plant in a special intervention zone so the work can be carried out quickly, the city says in a news release.

"These efforts will contribute to the harmonious cohabitation of the plant with the surrounding neighbourhoods in the near future," the city said.

Molinaro says he's been waiting for this news for more than 10 years, adding that residents like himself have been suggesting these measures all along.

"Today, we found out that they will do exactly what we had told them to do. We need a party," Molinaro laughed.

"We can finally stay outside without worrying."

The agreement, endorsed by the Quebec Superior Court, includes the following measures:

  • Construction of garages to end the outdoor storage of animal materials by March 2025.

  • Addition of an air purification system at the main plant by December 2025.

  • Creation of a water-treatment plant by July 2027.

  • Relocation of the main entrance for raw material trucks to 7th Street.

  • Redesign of the landscape facing Maurice-Duplessis Boulevard.

A public consultation assembly, the date of which will be announced later, will be organized to present the project and hear concerns and questions from citizens.

"It's a positive day and we're truly turned toward the future to make this new partnership work," said Martial Hamel, CEO of Sanimax, in an interview.

Hamel said teams are already working to implement these changes, adding there will be concrete improvements to the quality of life for citizens as early as the summer of 2025.

Coun. Lisa Christensen, who represents the Pointe-aux-Prairies district, says after 10 years of legal battles, "there's finally light at the end of the tunnel."

"With the work that's going to be done for the air treatment system, that's going to be major for the borough," she said.

Christensen says she understands some residents may be skeptical of the deal because the problem has been going on for so long, but she assures the agreement should be the last word on the saga.

"Each of these ordinances are court ordered," she said. "So there is a time frame to respect each one of these connections."

Christensen is encouraging residents to attend the public consultation assembly in the future in order to ask their questions and to "finally feel a sense of relief."