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.”