By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Champion Petfoods announced Wednesday it was behind a recent telephone survey of Morinville residents asking questions on local issues and concerns as well as levels of trust in current Council, business leaders and the media.
Champion’s President and CEO Frank Burdzy told Morinville News one of the reasons was to gauge where the company should be investing their community dollars.
“We’re currently receiving in the neighbourhood of 10 to 12 requests per month for donations to some charitable fund or event, and what we really want to do at Champion, as an organization, is focus more of our giving to core causes that are of keen interest to the residents,” Burdzy said. “We weren’t doing that before. We were just taking each one as it came.”
Burdzy said some of the questions in the survey, the results of which his company has not yet received, will allow them to get an idea for what things resonate with residents, allowing the company to channel more funding and employee support to those initiatives.
But the intent of the survey was not entirely for altruistic purposes. Burdzy said another purpose was determining public perception on the work they have been doing to address the company’s odour issue. “We’ve spent a lot of time, effort and money on odour mitigation and not just to deal with the odour but to deal with our presence in the community,” he said, adding the company has a desire to be good corporate citizens in all it does. “We want to make sure that we have a gauge for where we are.”
The company president said the third reason was a desire to keep in tune with the current thinking on issues that are top of mind with town residents.
Burdzy said survey questions varied from call to call with respect to gaining information on areas where the company might invest community dollars. “There was a list of about 18 or 20 items, everywhere from library, school, a number of them,” he said, adding the questions were rotated through the process so not every participant received exactly the same questions.
He said the company would look at and rank the responses to key interest areas. “If business development is a key issue, then obviously we want to participate more and be encouraging more business development and growth in Morinville.”
[SUBHEAD]Denies any intent to mislead
Beyond hot button questions on local issues, including photo radar, the odour problem in town, and the proposed Cardiff overpass, survey participants found questions related to the current municipal by-election and a direct question about who the participant planned to vote for.
Burdzy said asking those questions was not an intent to mislead but to get unbiased answers to the questions of interest.
“We were keenly interested in finding out a couple things relative to Champion Petfoods in relation to the community, and we approached pollsters to do this because we wanted to have it unbiased and independent,” he said. “The advice they gave us is it has to be mixed in with something else that is current and relevant to the community in order for the unbiased nature to be present.”
The consultant’s recommendation was to build the survey around elections, something the ROI Research Inc., the firm Champion employed, does on a national and provincial level.
“It worked well for them because they could wrap it up using some standard election polling questions they would use in any other poll that might be out there,” Burdzy said.
The company will not be making the results of the survey public.
[SUBHEAD]Progress may not be visible
One of the purposes of the poll was to gauge feedback on the company’s odour mitigation efforts.
Earlier this summer, Champion installed a high-tech chimney atop their Kitchen 2. In answer to concerns the stack is not operational, Burdzy said the unit is very much running and running efficiently.
“It’s been designed to not only emit the steam but to cool it while it’s travelling to the surface, to the top,” he explained. “Why people may not see steam coming out there at this time of year is because the steam is coming out at about the same temperature as the ambient temperature outside. It’s not converting to steam. It’s coming out the top and it’s not evident.”
The CEO said residents will likely see steam rising from the stack as temperatures drop this fall and winter.