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Sask. woman fighting bylaw that would allow large feedlots nearer people's homes

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A new zoning bylaw, that would allow livestock operations to be closer to homes in the RM of Dundurn, Sask., isn't sitting well with those who live near Blackstrap Lake.

The RM is in the process of creating the new rule that would reduce the distance required between intensive livestock operations (ILOs) and residences.

The Hillcrest Hutterite Colony backs onto the resort village of Thode, Sask.

If the new rules move ahead, Vanessa Ursel worries the animals there would move closer to her home — which has been in her family since she was seven-year-old.

She's concerned about the increased smell, noise, and manure getting into Blackstrap Lake.

"I'm not against livestock operations. I'm all for them. I'm for farming — just at a safe distance that doesn't impact other communities," Ursel told CTV News.

Thode Councillor Corey Fernets said manure and fecal matter getting into the lake could have implications beyond the village. Blackstrap Lake is part of Saskatoon's southeast water supply system.

"We're not talking about 20 people in a resort village. We're talking about a significant amount of people," Fernets said.

"We have a significant water body here that feeds a number of consumers."

Ursel started an online petition, against the new bylaw, which has garnered more than 730 signatures. 

In a statement to CTV News, the RM of Dundurn said the proposed bylaw aligns with all rules and regulations.

"The RM works closely with the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure that any existing or proposed ILO conform with the environmental requirements of the province," the statement reads.

Right now, ILOs with 300-499 animal units must be 1,600 meters away from a residential area. The proposed changes would decrease that distance to 800 meters.

The province categorizes a single animal unit as one cow, 200 chickens, or six pigs.

The RM said it does not have any active applications for new ILOs or expansions of existing operations.

Before a bylaw can be approved, a public hearing must be held.

Ursel said she plans on attending the public meeting, scheduled for May 21.

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