Animal rights group Toronto Pig Save has launched a petition calling on a Sofina Foods pork plant in Burlington to sign a safety agreement for vigils.
The group has gathered once a week at the Fearman’s plant on Harvester Road and Appleby Line since 2011.
Protesters observe and — during the summer months — feed water to pigs as they approach the plant on trucks.
WATCH: Police clash with protesters, media in heated confrontation following accident with truck transporting pigs
Toronto Pig Save claims there are a handful of aggressive truck drivers making the vigils unsafe.
“There was a woman who was standing where the traffic lights are and the truck ran into her and she cracked a rib and went to hospital,” says the group’s co-founder, Anita Krajnc.
Toronto Pig Save claims arrangements have been made with slaughterhouses in Toronto and L.A. to keep the gates closed to the trucks for up to five minutes to allow protesters to approach the pigs safely.
Nearly 1,300 people have signed a petition asking the Burlington plant to do the same.
Krajnc says a letter has also been sent to Michael Latifi, the CEO of Sofina Foods and several politicians including area councillor, Paul Sharman.
He says residents have been contacting him for years about how the vigils have impacted the community.
“I respect people’s rights to protest, but I do not think it’s appropriate to do so in a way that creates safety concerns,” said Sharman.
At a past vigil, he says he witnessed traffic trying to move around a trailer that was crossing multiple lanes because the truck had been stopped by protesters.
The question, now he says, is what’s reasonable when it comes to these vigils.
It’s something he’s hoping a traffic management steering committee comprised of regional, municipal and police representatives will tackle during its next meeting.
Krajnc says she believes protesters should be protected as pedestrians under the Highway Traffic Act because there are traffic lights at Fearmans.
“We are dismayed by Toronto Pig Save’s illegal and unsafe tactics, which include interfering with the ingress and egress of trucks from our property causing a complete or partial blockage of the intersection…” spokesperson, Daniele Dufour said.