VICTORIA -- With demand for local and ethically sourced food increasing across Vancouver Island during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new feasibility study into the creation of a local abattoir, or slaughterhouse, is being conducted.

Currently, most locally raised livestock is shipped off the island for processing. Meanwhile, most of the meat that is purchased in island grocery stores is processed in facilities on the mainland and brought to the island.

“This creates undue stress on the animals and increases costs and logistics to the local producers,” said the South Island Prosperity Partnership (SIPP) in a news release.

“Processing livestock locally would also reduce the environmental impact of transport out of the region and would generate local jobs and economic activity.”

SIPP is funding the feasibility study at a cost of $12,500. The organization says that it commissioned the study after consulting with local farmers and agriculture stakeholders.

“We often buy meat from outside our region due to cost savings from highly concentrated industrial farming, but having a local abattoir could help change that,” said Emilie de Rosenroll, CEO of the SIPP.

“Not only will it help farmers, it will benefit consumers who want to buy higher quality local products too.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused islanders to increasingly turn to local sources of food.

Demand for fruit and vegetable starter plants has soared since the pandemic began, and the City of Victoria is growing tens of thousands of vegetables to give to vulnerable residents.

“Residents of the CRD have always supported their farmers, but with recent worldwide events there is now even more focus to buy local,” said Darren Stott, president of Greenchain Consulting, the group commissioned by SIPP to conduct the abattoir feasibility study.

“Investing in local infrastructure for the agricultural community, such as regional abattoirs, will help increase local food production. CRD residents know this strengthens food security, increases local jobs and improves the local economy.”