Letter: Smellathon?

Editor:

Well, the much promised and highly touted Compliance Agreement with Champion Petfoods never happened! As we sat in the May 8 Regular Meeting of Morinville Town Council we listened to a terse statement carefully delivered by Morinville’s Chief Administrative Officer. You could almost hear the lawyers’ footsteps?

The upshot? The Town and Champion Petfoods were unable to arrive at an agreement to deal with the offensive and foul odours that continue to spew from Champion’s operations.

The new plan? Enforcement. Really? Enforce what? What enforcement mechanisms are now available to the Town Administration and the citizens of Morinville? How well prepared are we?

Some questions that need to be addressed by Town Administration, Champion or Town Council might include:
1. Is five odour units per metre cubed (5ou/m3) still the designated target? Has Champion taken recent odour measurements? How close is Champion to the proposed targets? What would current odour measurements reflect? Who collects and verifies the data?

2. Is Community Standards Bylaw 27/2010 really sufficient to motivate or compel Champion to substantively improve odour mitigation? The penalties for a first, second or third offence are $200, and $400 maxing out at $600. Are these penalties meaningful for a large scale commercial operation?

3. What other bylaws or mechanisms might exist that the Town or citizens would be able to deploy and enforce with effect in dealing with this issue? Will enforcement initiatives be made public? Will citizens be informed if the Director of Planning and Development is enforcing the Land Use Bylaw, Business Licensing Bylaw, Source Control Bylaw or the Community Standards Bylaw?

Town Administration and Council have acted in good faith in the hopes that Champion would resolve this persistent odour issue so that citizens, jobs and industry could happily coexist. Champion’s promises, timelines and constantly wafting deadlines for an odour mitigation solution have been accommodated repeatedly.

The end result is that Morinvillians have been subjected to nostril slapping odours for three years and counting.
Residents have endured deadlines set in sand, concrete and stone. Maybe we need something a little less permeable? How about adamantium?

What happens now? What actionable results should we now expect from Morinville’s CAO, the Director of Planning and Development or our Town Council? Champion contends that they have a good working relationship with the Town and that, “It’s a matter of keeping talking about things.” Sounds like Champion has a plan.

At this late stage do we really believe that the last piece of the odour solution puzzle is higher outlet stacks? Not so much.

Is the smell a problem for you? Are your sinuses in rebellion? Is your quality outdoor time ruined by odours that would gag a gopher? Enough already! What can we do?

Register a bylaw complaint at http://www.morinville.ca/residents/bylaw-enforcement.
May your summer days be graced with sunny days, gentle rains and barbecues, and may the prevailing winds blow away from your step.

P. O’Dea, Morinville

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10 Comments

  1. Awesome editorial Mr. O’dea!

    You’ve raised excellent, common sense questions now lets hope the Town of Morinville comes up with some, shall I say concrete answers. Sorry but I won’t be holding my breath, although it does help alleviate the Champion odour.

  2. We might be stupid to hope that bylaw will be issuing tickets. Seems to me that of the multiple complaints received regarding champion, our bylaw officers couldn’t leave their chairs to issue a ticket.

    Something more drastic like firing the CEO, and anyone else who had a hand in the failed compliance agreement and maybe an election might be required before something happens.

    Seems to me that council is alot of talk be action…. Action they hide behind administration and say they have no control. Many of us will remind residents of this when the next election occurs.

    So what will it take to deal with champion? Well for starters someone who understands that big business, polluting business, irresponsible business takes more than a neighborly request to stop what they are doing. We need more than an Elmer Fud mayor, and party line following small town minded council to effect change.

    This is getting stupid already. Pick a deadline, have council direct administration to pull the business license effective that date if the stink persists. Oh and maybe while they are at it they could triple or quadruple the tax rate for these guys to at least prove they are somewhat serious.

    How many people have not bought lumber or other building products from castle for fear that their house will stink of dog vomit.

    How come we don’t hear any more from our council other than that they “are very angry”. They sure are not on the side of the majority tax payer, that is us the resident.

  3. I think setting a ‘special polluters’ tax rate would suffice, or just not issuing a business license.

    As mentioned earlier though, the best method at the moment is to file an official action via the online form. I think if the fines are levied like the new CAO has promised, a couple hundred thousand will start to make champion take note.

  4. Last fall, I was playing golf in Westlock and overheard two ladies talking about Morinville. One said she won’t even stop for gas in Morinville because she can’t get out of the car without gagging. The other woman agreed, and gleefully told of a relative in the military who rejected Morinville as a place of residence when transferred to CFB Edmonton “because of the stench”.

    This is what the odour problem is doing to the image of our community. Time to solve this!

  5. Maybe a collective law suit against the Pet Food Plant by 1,000 residents for loss of quality of life and potential future loss of property value. Maybe it is time to take the air quality of the town back during a protest day for clean air?

    Thoughts?

    Protesting by the Town and the residents may wake them up?

    Alferd E. Neuman ” What me Worry?” is alive and well at the Palacial Main Studios of the Champion Pet Food Stage (office).
    First Act ” Do you smell something?”
    Second Act ” We will fix that right away!”
    Final Act ” Oh you want us to fix it now, we thought we would wait until sometime next decade!”

  6. The response from ‘Upset Resident’ does raise a question that has always puzzled me. The companies in the industrial park and surrounding area have fallen victim to Champion’s odours for years, but I’ve heard of only one that has spoken out publically.

    When asked why they don’t complain, I was told by one company representative that it is because of a business ethics issue.

    Wow – I’m impressed! Fellow businesses in the park follow a code of ethics which I am not so sure that Champion follows. Why other companies watch a constant drop in their bottom line while Champion continues to grow and become more profitable puzzles me.

  7. Interesting comments. Does anyone have a copy of the guidelines (Federal, Provincial or Municipal) that the town will use to legally determine when the smell is severe enough to be able to fine this Company for the strong odours? Does the town have a means of determining when this limit has been reached, i.e. meter or sensor, and does the town have anyone qualified to use these devices and be able to testify in court? Will these tickets be like speeding tickets, the stronger the smell, the more the fine? Seems to me no-one realizes the procedures that must be taken to start issuing tickets / fines! Because of the legalities involved, I would think it will take many meetings with all levels of Government to establish rules and guidelines and umpteen hoops to jump through before the town can even consider issuing a ticket for this. There is so much the town must do and until they begin the process, I doubt that any tickets will be issued. Also, when they do start taking readings and smell measurements, I hope they will also take readings over by the sewage plant on 100 Ave at the east end of town because that area stinks worse than the dog food plant!

  8. @upset resident – in defence of Bylaw Enforcement, they have issued a ticket to Champion Foods this week. I agree the fine is a joke and non-deterent.

    I read the Licensing Bylaw for businesses and I suggest you do as well. A business license may be suspended or revoked for violating any municipal bylaws (Business License Bylaw 13/2011 S. 33.2). Although, we won’t be so lucky to see the company shut down for one or two complaints, it’s plausible we’ll see some action if there are several hundred or thousands of documented complaints.

    We are free to complain here without consequence (for us or anyone else) but if you truly want to contribute to the solution take the 3 minutes to complete the complaint form each time you’re offended:

    http://www.morinville.ca/residents/bylaw-enforcement

  9. It may have been only a small victory but I did receive a phone call from Morinivlle By-Law Enforcement confirming they had issued a ticket to Champion today May 11th. Whether this was my on-line complaint or from another resident it was gratifying to know the Community Standard By-law is backed being enforced upon Champion.

    The on-line process is simple, it records the violation, provides a reference number and can be followed up on.

    Visit http://www.morinville.ca/residents/bylaw-enforcement to fill out the form.

    May I encourage Morinville residents to continue with on-line complaint reporting and when the next quarterly by-law complaints are reviewed by Town Council may the numbers be staggering!

    Thank you Paul O’dea for the leadership and integrity that you have shown on behalf of all Morinville residents who are weary and tired of the Champion odor problem.

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