By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – There were no Valentine’s Day cards exchanged between Champion Petfoods and the Town of Morinville Feb. 14, but the relationship between the local manufacturer and Council didn’t seem particularly strained after Council voted unanimously in favour of pursuing a compliance agreement with Champion to resolve the outstanding odour issue.
In presenting the request for decision, Interim CAO Debbie Oyarzun said the compliance agreement is one of mutual understanding between the two parties with respect to time lines, and that Champion is participating in the process.
“The intent is to work cooperatively here,” Oyarzun said, noting the ultimate goal is to achieve odour mitigation within the community.
Although the compliance agreement is currently being negotiated between the Town of Morinville and Champion Petfoods, Mayor Lloyd Bertschi said any potential consequences will exceed those in the Community Standards Bylaw. Champion was fined once in 2011 under the new bylaw; however, the maximum fine is $600 for third and subsequent offences.
“It is very clearly going to lay out the consequences beyond the $300 fine or the $500 fine,” the mayor said Tuesday night.
But just what the compliance agreement between the Town and Champion may contain is unlikely to be made public due to the legal document being protected by FOIP legislation. The mayor said some general information on the agreement may be made public with the actual compliance agreement delving into greater detail on Champion’s proprietary systems and information.
Mayor Bertschi and Councillor Nicole Boutestein recently met with Champion Petfoods President and CAO Frank Burdzy and some of his technical advisors to get a better understanding of the problems confronting Champion as it continues its conversion to a commercial kitchen process. Bertschi said in his discussions with Champion they have identified a number of changes that need to be made to improve things. “There are a number of things that are going to be done over the next three months or so,” Bertschi said, adding Champion is working with their technology suppliers to implement changed processes and modifications. “The good thing is these are incremental steps, so as they do one thing out there the odour severity may come down. It’s not like you are putting in these scrubbers or plasma injectors and you just throw a switch. It’s a whole bunch of numbers and things. We should see a gradual improvement over a period of time, and the final solution soon.”
Champion’s last request for an extension targeted the odour reduction project being completed in the spring of 2012. Whether or not this target will be extended or held to in the compliance agreement will be determined in the negotiations between the Town and Champion.
Council had previously rescinded a $60,000 tax break to be broken over five years due to Champion’s having not met previous completion targets.