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More than 'meats' the eye at shuttered, festering butcher shop

Foul smell, insect infestation at North Bay's Bavarian Meats

It's North Bay's own little shop of horrors.

A visitor to the parking lot of the former Bavarian Meats butcher shop is immediately confronted by the stench of rotting meat. Neighbours say they can smell it inside their homes if their windows are open and the wind is blowing in their direction.

For weeks, various organizations have been debating who will clean up the mess left behind when the business hit hard times last year. After concerns from the neighbourhood were brought to the attention of Coun. Bill Vrebosch, he and Deputy Mayor Tanya Vrebosch have been pushing for a resolution. MPP Vic Fedeli's office has been contacted.

Tanya Vrebosch says it is a unique circumstance that does not have an easy solution under any municipal regulations.

"We've been at this for weeks. We're trying to help out the neighbourhood that has been unintentionally caught up in what is a civil matter. I will say, it's time for the owner to come clean it up."

The smell of festering meat can be detected at least five metres from the front door and the flies can be seen swarming on both sides of the front glass doors (see video above).

A compliance order issued under the City of North Bay's clean yards bylaw remains posted to the front door of the seemingly abandoned business, located at 699 Wallace Rd. The order, signed by bylaw officer Ron Melnyk is dated June 14 and advises an inspection of the property contravenes the bylaw due to the presence of "undesirable material," namely "garbage bins in rear yard emitting foul odour and a foul odour coming from the building — rotting meats."

A walk around the building shows those rotting barrels of meat left outside have been disposed of, but witnesses say no one has gone inside in months. The electrical power has been cut to the building for some time, meaning anything left behind inside has been there through the winter until the present day.

The city's communications officer, Gord Young, confirms the timeline. 

"The city has taken what action it can at this time to try to address the issue by executing an order under its Clean Yards Bylaw to have bins of rotting meat removed from the exterior of the property.

"Prompted by an initial complaint, a contractor hired by the city removed a number of garbage bins containing rotting meats from the rear of the property on June 23 after the owner failed to comply with the order issued by our bylaw enforcement officer. The costs associated with the cleanup have been billed to the property owner in accordance with the city’s Clean Yards Bylaw."

By all accounts, Jamey Heaton, the most recent operator of record at Bavarian Butcher & Wholesale, experienced financial difficulties, had to close the business, and the ownership of the building was transferred to an active numbered company based in Oakville, Ont. And now, the property is for sale at a list price of $1.55 million.

It seems the locks have been changed but the unnamed backers from outside the city either do not know about the potential bio-hazard left inside — or do not care. 

A call to Heaton by BayToday was met with a voicemail greeting referencing Bavarian Meats but the message left had not been returned as of publication time. 

The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit acknowledged it had looked into the situation but "does not have the legal right of entry to a facility that is not in operation unless there is a health hazard that puts the health of the public at risk. While the odour is a nuisance, it is not considered a health hazard in this situation."

The City of North Bay has been working on the Bavarian Meats mess for weeks.

"The city has determined after a review of its bylaws that it does not have the legal authority to gain entry to the property in order to initiate a cleanup of the interior of the building," Young advises.

"Efforts to try to resolve the matter are ongoing and we are actively working to make contact with those who are in control of the property," he continues. "The city has also been in contact with partner agencies including the North Bay Police Service and Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, which, to our understanding, have active files on the property."

The deputy mayor reiterates her call for the property owners to do the right thing and clean up the mess. She says another neighbourly move by the company would be to warn the nearby residents and business operators when they plan to send a restoration team to pull the rancid meat out of the shop so they can go for a drive or — at the very least — close their windows.

— BayToday