Champion compliance agreement targets May

By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – Two months after unanimously voting in favour of pursuing a compliance agreement with Champion Petfoods over outstanding odour issues, the document is yet to be signed by the two parties. It was anticipated both the Town of Morinville and pet food manufacturer would ink the agreement by mid-April.

Morinville’s Chief Administrative Officer Debbie Oyarzun told councillors during the Apr. 24 Council there had been some back and forth between Champion’s and Morinville’s legal advisors on the document that caused the delay.
“We’re in a position where we’re very close to an agreement,” Oyarzun said, adding she is anticipating May 1 as the date by which to have the document signed by all concerned. “We’re basically drawing a line in the sand.”
Although details of what is in it will not likely be made public, the agreement would outline odour mitigation milestones and the timeline by which they are to be met. The compliance agreement would be Champion’s agreement to comply with odour mitigation and the Town agreeing not to enforce.

Oyarzun said if the agreement is not signed by May 1 she will be meeting with enforcement services on the options for enforcement. This could come in the form of additional tickets through Morinville’s Community Standards Bylaw or some other as yet undisclosed measures.

However, signing the document would give Champion some additional time to complete the odour mitigating work they began in June of 2010 with the installation of a $500,00 plasma injector system, something the Town gave them a $60,000 tax break towards but subsequently removed when the company failed to solve the problems. The latest report suggests Champion is anticipating having the problem rectified by the end of June. Although Oyarzun would not elaborate on what that work is due to the Town being privy to some trademarked information, she said there was one major piece to be completed.

Morinville is prepared to give the company the additional time if the agreement can be signed. Oyarzun said the Town is entertaining the agreement because Champion is close to achieving mitigation from a technical perspective. “If we sign the agreement we would not be enforcing,” Oyarzun told Council. “We’d give them that grace period. The line would be drawn in concrete.”

Deputy Mayor David Pattison expressed concern about post-agreement monitoring of Champion’s agreement with the Town. Oyarzun said residents would be the best form of monitoring.

“The biggest monitoring would be the noses of the public,” she said. “The residents would be able to tell if they were in compliance just by being out and about.”

Champion moved some of their offices and warehousing to Edmonton in 2010, something that had raised the ire of Councillor Paul Krauskopf shortly after the 2010 municipal election. Pattison raised the question with Oyarzun as to whether or not there were some economic development opportunities for the community with the growing pet food manufacturer.

“They have spoken about additional opportunities,” Oyarzun said, noting there have been some talks about holding additional company conferences at the cultural centre. “We haven’t explored much further than that because we want to explore the immediate issue of odour mitigation. This is kind of the forefront.”

Looking to the more immediate concerns of odour mitigation, Councillor Paul Krauskopf asked what role Council would play whether or not an agreement was signed by May 1. Oyarzun explained Council cannot take direct action because they are the appeal body in a matter of an enforcement dispute. As such, they must remain at arm’s length and unbiased. “You can provide comments, feedback, and represent community opinion,” Oyarzun explained. “The authority to enforce comes from the development officer.”

Preparations for an enhanced odour reduction system continue in Plant No. 2 at Champion Petfoods. Champion claims they now have more control over their cooking processes through air flow and temperature management adjustments. They say the improvements required significant process changes, continued analysis monitoring and additional training for Champion personnel. – Submitted photo

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  1. Another deadline – seems like we’ve had many years of deadlines which are never met. Sorry if I sound confused but when I read the following:“If we sign the agreement we would not be enforcing,” Oyarzun told Council. “We’d give them that grace period. The line would be drawn in concrete.”

    What would the Town not be enforcing? The agreement or the multitude of citizen complaints that are just gathering dust and not being enforced. Doesn’t sound like much of a line drawn in concrete.

    Surely the Town of Morinville can do better than this?

  2. Yes, surely they can do better than this….if they had knowledgeable individuals working this case. And even if they did, would they? This whole ordeal and how the town of Morinville has dealt with it seems completely amateur. Complaint lines which make some people think that they are actually being heard, contact numbers for bylaw enforcement who do nothing but act as a sounding board and a mayor and council who can’t seem to put the nail in the coffin with this issue. This has taken too long to resolve and even more embarrassing, is how it was ALLOWED to get to this point in the first place. I say, someone signs that piece of paper allowing a company to have a business license in the Town of Morinville. Who is it and why have you signed it???? Why does this town have such little standards?

  3. Lisa your comments are certainly vailid. Over the years I have spoken to hundreds of concerned Morinville residents and even a few business owners. People are weary of this problem and very upset.

    Our only hope appears to be in a chain of command where our ineffective bylaw enforcement is accountable to Morinivlle Town administration, who are accountable to Town Council.

    Town Council was voted in by the residents of Mornville and are accountable to us. Voters may have short memories but they do as this article states have good noses! I trust our Town Council and Mayor will keep this mind as this mess unfolds.

  4. So, the agreement was supposed to be signed mid-April, and the new “line in the sand” is May 1?

    Funny things about lines in the sand, they are pretty easy to erase.

    It holds absolutely no surprise to me that they blew another deadline, maybe at some point town administration will start enforcing the bylaw given to them by our democratically elected council.

  5. I personally love how everyone keeps saying that the content of the compliance agreement will not be made public. How will the pubic know what the deadlines are? How will the public know if champion is in breach? How will council be held accountable to finally act and shut down champion when they blow all deadlines?

    Do we really as town folk appear that stupid to administration? Lets publish the dates, the penalties and the targets.

    We would be stupid to think that council will be acting appropriately on our behalf given that towns people have been lobbying for more than a year. I personally presented the fact that we needed a compliance agreement to council more than a year ago. Only now are they realizing it might be a good idea. I have a feeling that were we to read this supposed set in stone agreement that the targets would be well into the future and the penalties laughable and unenforceable.

    I have given up hope of breathing fresh air in Morinville until after the next election.

    I hope council members realize that this with the overpass underway, the school issue resolving, that this will be THE ONLY remaining issue by which the members will be judged.

  6. The sad part is that other businesses are probably losing money in the area because of Champion Pets. I end up driving to Home depot in St.Albert instead of heading to Castle in Morinville if I smell a cook. Why? You ever been there on a hot day when Champion is cooking?? It’s unbearable! I don’t know how anyone works in the vicinity.

    The Odor sensors are complete crap. My human nose tells me nothing has been done except they are cooking more. Just another Band-Aid to buy time.

    Keep up the band-aids Mayor & Council. We sure “Nose” it will get you far next election.

  7. I have completed several multi million dollar industrial jobs in the time it has taken them to add temperature sensors, and an air flow system with instrumentation (From what it sounds like)Incompetence, complete incompetence, from Champions Project team and Ownership, the last few Councils and now the new CAO Debbie Oyarzun. We don’t want to hear the words “We would not be enforcing” That’s what you have been doing, and my Nose tells me its not working. People want to hear what you will be enforcing, when they fail to meet the deadline! Discussing economic opportunity is laughable; Champion has cost the community immeasurable amounts of revenue and renting a few bays to store dog food or have an office will never repay that.

  8. One more question:- Has anyone seen any construction actually taking place? I drive past all the time and it looks like business as usual to me. No zoom booms, contractor vehicles, taped off areas, construction signage … Curios?

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