By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – During Wednesday night’s All-Candidates Forum held at Smith Music, mayoral candidates Lloyd Bertschi and Joseph Trapani offered different approaches to dealing with residents’ concerns about the odour coming from Champion Pet Foods, Morinville’s largest rate payer. Bertschi suggested it was time to put a little more pressure on the factory, but his opponent Trapani believes it is time to give them an ultimatum to fix the problem or move out.
“Keeping up the smell in this town is not good for anybody,” Trapani said. “People’s going to move out and nobody’s going to want to move in. So me and the council in the future, you know on October 26, when they come to visit, the ultimatum is fix it or move out.”
Although the comment received a solid round of applause, it also generated some mumbling of surprise in the crowd. The comment was in stark contrast to what the candidate told residents of South Glen in a community forum the previous night. At that time, Trapani was vocal in his opposition to the odour and in his desire to see the problem fixed sooner rather than later.
“I don’t want to be in the position to tell them to pack up and leave, but I want to be in the position to help the business do what they’re supposed to be doing and make our life a lot easier,” Trapani had said in South Glens Oct. 12.
Bertschi, who is employed as a sales representative at neighbouring RV City, told attendees that he’s had customers, who had travelled to Morinville to look at product, leave after viewing only a couple units, unable to continue due to the smell.
“We have been working with Champion Pet Foods; we will continue to work with Champion Pet Foods,” Bertschi said, noting he is aware that the smell has cost local companies business and caused some residents to seriously contemplate moving. “This is a serious issue we do need to deal with, and we do need to get Champion to continue to work on it, keeping their feet to the fire.”
Trapani said he heard no complaints about the smell for the first month and a half after Champion installed their $500,000 plasma injector system last June, but once the system stopped working Trapani said his phone hasn’t stopped with people complaining about the smell.
The mayor hopeful said the time has come to tell the plant to fix the problem the right way. Trapani also supports sending in an independent party to form an honest decision as to what’s going on at the plant and to send in health experts with respect to possible health issues from the emissions.
FULL AUDIO OF CANDIDATE’S ANSWERS
Click Here to listen to the complete audio of mayoral candidates Lloyd Bertschi and Joseph Trapani on the issue of odour emanating from Champion Pet Foods.