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RDP residents, elected officials meet to discuss Sanimax

Click to play video: 'RDP residents and government officials team up to tackle source of smell' RDP residents and government officials team up to tackle source of smell
WATCH: Patience is wearing thin for residents in Rivière-des-Prairies forced to deal with a putrid stench coming from a company called Sanimax. Complaints over the animal byproduct processing company have been mounting for years. As Global's Dan Spector reports, the battle entered a new phase as government officials step in – Aug 8, 2019

Residents of Rivière-des-Prairies are still dealing with a putrid stench coming from a company called Sanimax.

People have been complaining about the animal byproduct processing company for years. On Thursday night at Don Bosco Youth Leadership Centre, officials and residents had an unprecedented meeting to discuss Sanimax.

“At times, it did get a little feisty at the meeting,” said RDP resident Joseph Paglia, a vocal critic of the company.

“Citizens were upset last night, and they have a right to be upset,” said RDP borough councillor Lisa Christensen, who attended the meeting to speak to citizens on behalf of Rivière-des-Prairies-Pointe-aux-Trembles.

READ MORE: Rivière-des-Prairies residents say putrid stench is forcing them indoors

According to city figures, 4,300 complaints have been made about the company since 1992. Participants felt this meeting was different.

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“It is the first time, to my knowledge, that we were able to get different levels of government to discuss this issue,” said Paglia.

Christensen, local MNA Marc Tanguay, and MP Pablo Rodriguez all attended the meeting.

Sanimax transforms animal parts into usable products like tires and makeup. A large spill of animal entrails into a busy RDP street infuriated residents back in October of 2018. Recently the main issue has been the smell emanating from the facility.

“We receive letters from Sanimax saying the issue is resolved, then the same night it smells like putrid rotting chicken,” said Paglia.

Sanimax sent a letter to some residents after Global News covered the story of the stench last week. In the letter, the company apologized for recent mechanical issues, and says nothing like this has ever happened in the company’s 80-year existence.

“What have they done different to address the odors that are happening now that they haven’t done in 80 years?” wondered Paglia.

READ MORE: ‘Guts everywhere’: Montreal-area residents furious after truck spills animal parts on city street

At the meeting, citizens demanded the city do more to test the air around the plant. The city says it will be looking into that and at reinforcing air quality laws.

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“We want to streamline it, so it makes it that much more easier to proceed with fines,” said Christensen.

“I’m glad to hear the city will conduct analysis and will be producing a report with respect to the quality of air in that part of Montreal,” Tanguay told Global News in an interview.

Christensen is inviting people to keep complaining on the city’s new tip line.  Sanimax told Global News they are in the area to stay, but Tanguay hopes that’s not true.

“Long term, we are talking about potentially relocating Sanimax,” he said. “That would be the most efficient solution.”

In his seven years as the area’s MNA, Tanguay said he has never seen such organized opposition to Sanimax.

“This type of mobilization from the population, the citizens, it is new for me and it’s good,” he said.

Sanimax could not say why they did not attend the meeting.

“I don’t know why nobody went,” said Sanimax general manager Eric Caputo.  “In the coming days, we have our own meetings planned with elected officials, Montreal environmental services and some citizens.”

The city remains embroiled in multiple legal battles with Sanimax.

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