December 13, 2018 9:00 am

Maple Leaf Foods hosting open house in London ahead of poultry plant construction

A rendering of the new Maple Leaf Foods poultry processing facility, slated for construction in the spring on Wilton Grove Road at Highbury Avenue.

Liny Lambrink / Global News

Londoners can peck for answers about a new poultry processing plant set to open in 2021 during an open house Thursday night.

Maple Leaf Foods announced the $660-million facility planned for the city’s southeast end in late November, and its officials are prepared to answer questions about it at the Best Western Lamplighter on Wellington Road.

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“One of our key stakeholders here is our future employees, and the city we’re going to be doing business in,” company spokesperson Ben Brooks said. He hopes the community open house will be the first of many to keep London in the loop when it comes to the company’s plans.

READ MORE: Maple Leaf Foods planning $660M, 1,500-job poultry-processing facility in London

Maple Leaf Foods says construction on the state-of-the-art facility begins Spring 2019 on a property at Wilton Grove Road and Highbury Avenue, with an opening date sometime in early-to-mid 2021. It will be 640,000 square feet.

Brooks and other company experts will field the community’s questions on a range of topics including concerns about environmental impact and animal care. Visitors will also find information stations about various elements of the plan.

Brooks said London was chosen for its proximity to the 401, because it’s at the “epicentre” of Maple Leaf Foods’ independent chicken farmers, and for its “great community with a pool of very skilled labour.”

READ MORE: St. Marys mayor expresses disappointment in Maple Leaf Foods plant closure

The community open house is not a job fair. The new plant will create 1,450 full- and part-time jobs, 300 construction jobs, and is expected to support another 1,400 indirect jobs as its operations grow.

But with three ageing Maple Leaf plants in St. Marys, Toronto, and Brampton slated for closure over the next few years, officials acknowledge the jobs in London aren’t new. The St. Marys facility will shut down by late 2021, and the others will be closed by mid-to-late 2022, with a total loss of 1,600 jobs.

Thursday night’s open house runs from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Best Western Lamplight Inn on Wellington Road.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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