Enforcement will be pursued with Champion

By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – Despite what Morinville’s Chief Administrative Officer Debbie Oyarzun said was the best efforts on behalf of the Town to reach a compliance agreement with Champion Petfoods over outstanding odour issues, such an agreement has not been possible. Reading from a prepared statement to Morinville Town Council Tuesday night, Oyarzun said it is no longer recommended that the Town continue its ongoing forbearance on the matter and that enforcement avenues with Champion should now be pursued.

The Town of Morinville had not been enforcing any of its available bylaw options with the pet food manufacturer while the negotiations were underway; however, now that those negotiations have reached a stalemate, Oyarzun said Community Peace Officers and the Development Officer would use the tools at their disposal in enforcing bylaws with Champion.

“We’ve continually had a line drawn in the sand and that line continually got erased and redrawn,” Oyarzun said. “I put a line in the sand with Council that May 1st we would come back with an agreement or we would come back with a statement that we made today. The next Council meeting after May 1st was May 8. We were unable to come back with an agreement so we came back with the statement we did today that because there is no signed agreement we would be pursuing enforcement.”

Just what those enforcement options will be remains to be seen. Morinville’s Director of Planning and Development, Greg Hofmann, said bylaws relevant to Champion include permits issued under Morinville’s Land Use Bylaw, the Business Licencing Bylaw, Source Control Bylaw, and the Community Standards Bylaw. Hofmann said whether or not the enforcement would be public or behind the scenes would depend on the specific process that was being followed. “Obviously the person you are dealing with in terms of the enforcement needs to understand what you are doing,” he said. “Some of those processes are under notification to [the] public if there’s appeal. Clearly the intent is to properly notify the party that is being served.” But Hofmann said in matters where enforcement is being pursued he cannot publicly discuss specifics, including what the range of penalties, financial or otherwise, might be.

Although it remains to be seen what development-related bylaws and conditions may be brought to bear against Champion, Morinville’s Community Peace Officers do have the Community standards Bylaw at their disposal. That bylaw has a section on nuisance odours which carries with it a $400 fine for a second offence, $600 for third and subsequent offences.

Mayor disappointed

Morinville Mayor Lloyd Bertschi said he was disappointed an agreement was not reached with Champion. “We’ve been working on this. We talked about it [the agreement] initially last summer,” Bertschi said. “In September we broached it with them to see if they would be amendable to something like this. They said they would be. We provided it to them in January and unfortunately, four months later, we finally couldn’t come to a deal. It’s really unfortunate.”

The Mayor said he and Council were not privy to the stumbling blocks that prevented an agreement from being reached because it was being negotiated between Administration and Champion. The mayor and councillors, while being able to offer comments, feedback and speak to public opinion on Champion, must keep arms-length in the matter because Council is the appeal body in a matter of an enforcement dispute. “We have to be very clear this is not Council directing the Administration,” Bertschi said, adding the matter is an administrative process.

Champion says they are on target

Champion Petfoods President and CEO Frank Burdzy was also reluctant to delve into specifics as to why an agreement could not be reached between his company and the Town of Morinville.

“Like any legal agreement there’s lots of clauses that have to be reviewed in detail,” Burdzy said. “Both sides sat down with their legal counsel and then we sat down together many times. I think it just came to the point where there is a majority of agreement on most of the items and there is a couple that really just didn’t work for both sides. ”
Burdzy said to his mind there is no conclusion in the failed talks. He said both parties have said they have a good working relationship and have worked well and effectively together. “It’s a matter of keeping talking about things,” he said. “In the meantime, we are continuing to implement the solutions that we’ve already designed and planned and communicated to the Town.”

Those plans are still targeted by Champion to be ready by June, the most recently announced completion date. Burdzy said the new steam stacks are on order and set to arrive for installation in June. He anticipates having them erected within a week. “Kitchen 2 is really where most of the odours are coming from and those will be raised to be at least equivalent to the ones on the higher building,” he said.

Burdzy realizes he has lost credibility with many Morinville residents. “All I can say is we have got a plan,” he said. “We’re implementing it. We’ve got commitments to get equipment installed in June. We are continuing to hold our contractors accountable to that.”

If the project is completed on target, it will mark exactly two years from when Champion’s first attempt at odour mitigation was unveiled, a $500,000 plasma injector that was supposed to neutralize the cooking odours.

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11 Comments

  1. I am understanding Champion is not prepared to enter into an agreement to get their stank sorted out and has opted to pay, what amounts to pocket change each time some obscure law may be enforced.

    Is bylaw really going to stroll into Champion, seek out the head chef and issue him a violation ticket? Further, who is going to prosecute the charges? We’re on the hook for that cost as well. Perspective is this; they are cooking like any of us barbeque. Unfortunately, their’s doesn’t whet your appetite like a well marinated tenderloin on a gas grill.

    Council and Administration (or whoever is really dealing with this) needs to figure something out and based on the pool of affected citizens, we ought to know what the plan is. Not being “privy” to a live issue in your community is a horrible failure. Council had Burdzy explaining himself and answering questions directly from council members mere months ago. Suddenly, we’re not privy?

    This is not a problem new to the Town. We have been foddered to death with upgrade plans and weird agreements. Now, we have to wait while they rifle through yellowed authorities to launch a flaccid attack on the biggest dog in Town. This stinks as bad as the output from Burdzy’s kitchen.

    If I was making millions and someone said stop making that smell or you’re getting a $600 ticket, I’d reach into my pocket and toss the change to him with a smile.

  2. I have a feeling that if we were to know the champion plan, it would be to placate the town through talk. They are motivated by profit and that’s it. If your not affecting the profits, they don’t care at all. It is far cheaper for champion to throw full time spin doctors at the problem than invest in a solution.

    I would hope that bylaw would be driving by and fining champion daily, and after a couple hundred offences using it as reason to yank the business license. On top of that champion should be fined for every complaint phone call placed by the public.

    If we look at what champion has actually done to solve the problem. They basically have ordered a couple of longer pipes and called them stacks. Honestly… This is significant progress? Give me a break. I could order longer pipes and have them delivered within the week if I wanted. Apparently though it takes more than a year to analyze order and install a hose on a roof.

    Council given that administration is subject to their direction, should direct administration to yank the champion business license until such time as champion can prove a 0 emission process. Our town council has been played for fools, and they continue to blunder down the path of incompetence.

    Similarly I don’t see why champion has to agree to the conditions set forth by administration. Say I were to build a house and get a building inspection. The inspector doesn’t ask me to sign and agree to deficiencies. They put forth a stop work order and that is that. Why not do the same with champion?

    Fairly soon members of the town are going to park law chairs on that road and not let trucks headed to champion pass. I know my vehicle is getting close to breaking down and accidentally blocking that road.

    Lets ask council what their plan is now that there be all and end all solution turned to dust. Lets ask them why they continue to deal with a company that plays in bad faith. Lets ask them why they haven’t tripled the tax rate for a business impacting all those around it. Lets ask champion why they haven’t offered funding for major town projects as a means of apologizing to town citizens.

    I think every member of our community should call council to ask these questions as they apparently don’t want to take action. They get bad news like this and then run for cover behind administration instead of doing something.

    Why am I not surprised.

  3. The last thing any of us residents should have to endure is another spring and summer season here in Morinville breathing in foul, and offensive odours.

    I wonder how the real estate agents hide this from out of town clients looking to relocate to Morinville? Is there some sort of kitchen schedual that they have access to? I know I would be turning around.

  4. Why don’t they build another plant outside of morinville. “$500,000 plasma injector that was supposed to neutralize the cooking odours.” Did this even work? No becuase i can still smell the disgusting smell of dog food everyday. If the owner of the dog food plant can waste that much money on something that doesn’t work then he can waste another $500,000 on building the plant somewhere else I’m sure he’s wealthy enough that he can afford too. You know what people say to me when I say im from Morinville? “Oh the place that smells like dog food gross.” Don’t get me wrong i love living in Morinville, but i think that the smell and how everyone outside of Morinville knows about this is going to push people away from the town. Yeah we are building tones of new houses, but is that going to make the people who move here want to stay?

  5. Well, like the Mayor told me…..”They are one of our biggest tax payers.” I think he forgot about the residents! “We can’t just shut them down”. Right, but you can revoke their business license or not reissue it!!!! Who is running who in this town?

  6. As residents of Morinville we can be by-standers or participants in using by-law enforcement which was put on hold while the ill fated compliance agreement went nowhere.

    If this is our only method of seeking action then residents please use the Town of Morinville website – by-law enforcement section and register your complaints. It is not difficult and perhaps numbers will finally mean something to Town Council and Town Administration.

    Can you imagine the wasted dollars spent on the compliance agreement and the cost to our community thanks to Champion Pet Foods and their stench?

    Please make your feelings and dissatisfaction known!

  7. Well, this is a pretty easy end solution then.

    CALL bylaw anyime you even faintly sniff ANY type of odour that smells like dog food.

    The number is 780-939-4361, and the online link is here: http://www.morinville.ca/residents/bylaw-enforcement

    Every time someone complains, they will now be issuing a ticket. People above have mentioned that Champion will elect to pay the pocket change. If tons of people phone in every day and they issue Champion 1 ticket per day, that will be $219,000 per year ($600/day).

    If administration again chooses NOT to enforce the bylaw put forth by our democratically elected council, it is obvious there is a much larger issue here that needs to be addressed through different means.

    And if administration and council continue to sit around and not do anything while the town smells of rot, then we all need to elect someone next time around who will do what needs to be done.

  8. I should make a clarification here. I recognize that town council and administration haven’t been ‘sitting around doing nothing’ about this issue, but they have (by their own admission) continually and arbitrarily erased and re-drawn deadlines to end the stream of lies, stalling tactics, and mistruths coming from Burdzy, a man with no connection and no care for this community.

    They have been working quite diligently I’m sure, but they haven’t been ‘doing what needs to be done’.

    Sometimes things have to be done that don’t make friends, further your career, or make your life easier. Some things have to be done because they are the right thing to do.

    Administration and council need to put their ‘bad guy’ faces on, and just do the things that need to be done. They are there to make this community a better place, and that’s what they need to do.

  9. Great comments from above.

    It blows my mind that this Mayor and Council care more about the taxes that this crappy outfit brings in than the people of the Town itself. Hiding being “Administration” is even more of an embarrassment.

    This is a fact, if it wasn’t we would have seen progress.

  10. It is time for the citizens to take our air and town back. I have been in conversation with Legal counsel and there is precedent for Class Action by a neighborhood or town to win a case based on loss of use of property and can prove damages prorated based on days of lost use per year and property value. I wonder if 1,000 residents all suing Champion for $10,000 each would get their attention?! Even without council we could all file a small claims suit with the same overall effect.

    I also think a legal blockade as Sean suggested might not be such a bad idea.

    If you are interested in Helping me peruse the legal avenue and form a coalition of Citizens that have heard enough lies from this company please email me at scojoc@yahoo.com

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