- by Anne Finlay-Stewart, Editor

Popeye's Louisiana Kitchen had a bonanza opening weekend in Owen Sound. Locals lined up in the restaurant and the drive-through, eager to try the new taste in town.

The franchise has had some delays in renovating the former Pizza Hut space on 16th Street East on the southwest corner of the Heritage Place Mall property - they had anticipated being open months ago.  As of the Canada Day  weekend, they did not have an outdoor grease bin on site for their used fryer oil.

oilindrainA mall employee on their way home from work Friday evening witnessed two men dumping a bin of what appeared to be oil in to a sewer grate in the restaurant's drive-through lane. The next day, the grease mark was large and footsteps were clear.

Local activist/photographer/musician Raymond King went to the restaurant Sunday to speak to a manager, simply to ask if used cooking oil had been poured in to Owen Sound's water. When he was dismissed without an answer, he went to the grate to take pictures, and staff told him – on camera - that it had been “cleaned up”. King replied that what was down the drain was already in the water system, and asked again that they not put any more down the sewer.

“In our culture it is everyone's responsibility to look after the environment,” King said, putting on a #Waterislife sweatshirt for our return visit on Tuesday. King is Ojibwe. While I waited to speak to a Popeye's representative, King was told by mall security that his actions, on private property, could result in a lawsuit.

The Popeye's representative, who did not identify himself, told me that cooking oil was now being disposed of in the Rothsay bin half a kilometer away behind the mall food court. He said he would not comment on how the oil was transported there, nor would he comment on whether grease had been dumped in the storm drain over the weekend.

We have been trying to reach the restaurant's landlords through the General Manager of Heritage Place Mall, owned by Cushman and Wakefield, but have yet to receive a response.

Dennis Kefalas, the Director of Public Works for the City of Owen Sound has been dealing with the issue for most of the day.  “We are in the process of investigating the issue and are in regular communication with the Ministry of the Environment,” Kefalas responded by email.

The City has promised updates as they become available and the Owen Sound Hub will provide these to our readers.rothsay

Rothsay is Canada's largest recycler of used cooking oils, and the grease bins can be found behind every frying restaurant in the City.

Popeye's originated in 1972 in Louisiana, and is now "one of the world’s largest quick service restaurant chicken concepts with over 2,700 restaurants in the U.S. and around the world" according to their website.



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