Construction is expected to start in the spring on a new $660 million, 640,000 sq. ft. poultry-processing plant in London, Ont.

Maple Leaf Foods is building what the London Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) is calling "one of the most technologically advanced poultry-processing plants in the world."

The project will bring 300 immediate construction jobs, as well as an estimated 1,340 full-time and 110 part-time jobs by 2023. However, it's unclear whether these will all be new jobs.

Maple Leaf says it will also be closing three smaller facilities in St. Marys, Toronto and Brampton that can't be modernized, and which will be merged into the new plant.

The St. Marys plant is expected to close in late 2021, the other two by the end of 2022 at the latest. All three plants are 50 to 60 years old.

Those employees will be offered jobs at the new London facility or other Maple Leaf plants, as well as services to help find new employment. Maple Leaf says it regrets the impact of those closures.

The new London facility will be built on a 100-acre site along Wilton Grove Road near Highbury Avenue, south of Highway 401, and is expected to be completed by 2021.

The LEDC and the City of London have reportedly been working closely with Maple Leaf Foods to get this deal done.

Kapil Lakhotia, president and CEO of LEDC, said in a statement, “As the largest addition to our food processing sector in the last 20 years, Maple Leaf Foods will bring significant employment and long-term economic benefits to the entire Southwest [Ontario] region.”

Advanced technology being incorporated into the facility is expected to improve food safety, productivity, animal welfare and environmental sustainability.

In a statement, Michael H. McCain, president and CEO of Maple Leaf Foods, said, “This world-class facility will enable Maple Leaf to meet the steadily growing consumer demand for premium, value-added poultry products, and strengthen Canada’s food system."

The federal government will be contributing $28 million to the new state-of-the-art facility, an investment Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Lawrence MacAulay said will help the competitiveness and sustainability of Canadian agriculture.

“Canada’s agri-food industry is a key driver of innovation and well-paying jobs across the country. Our government is proud to invest in Maple Leaf Foods, helping to position Canada as a globally competitive player in the food processing sector.”

The Ontario government will also be contributing $34.5 million to the facility

Maple Leaf Foods is the leading producer of packaged meats in Canada and currently employs more than 11,000 people across the country.

MacAuley and Ontario Premier Doug Ford, along with other dignitaries, are expected to be in London on Tuesday to make the announcement official.

With files from The Canadian Press