Well! Champion Petfoods has its well-deserved and hard earned $5,400 in fines waived. Lots of people are upset.
We are informed by CAO Debbie Oyarzun that “Champion has agreed to stay the course, and the Town has agreed to stay the previously issued tickets.”
There is an in camera meeting with our CAO and Council. There is no public discussion. No debate. No explanation. Not a peep from our elected representatives.
There is lawyer speak. Something happens. Poof. There’s smoke. It’s like… magic!
The smelling masses cannot be trusted to be privy to such sophisticated deliberations because “not a lot of people know the mechanics of Council and Administration…”
Guess the “openness” and “consultation” platforms that some of our councillors trumpeted at last election have developed a serious case of the wobbles.
There is no Council vote on record. The CAO explains that Council makes no decision but that the CAO definitely takes her “marching orders from Council.”
The less “mechanically” inclined amongst us are left dazed and a little befuddled. Community Standards Bylaw 27-2010 seemed pretty clear:
Section 2.2.1 states “any owner…will refrain from any use of their premises or property that results in the production of offensive odours… which represent a nuisance to…the general public…”
Section 4.5.3 states, “any owner…who fails to comply will be liable for fines listed in Schedule A.”
Why did Champion’s fines go walkabout?
We are told that the fines disappeared because we are all about “compliance”, the future, paving roads forward and stuff and the tickets went stale or something. While dazzling, this explanation is sort [of] unsatisfying… like tap dancing without the shoes.
We are told that Council and the CAO are committed to “working with businesses.” Apparently residents are not entitled to the same exalted consideration when it comes to fresh air and fussy little things like by-law enforcement.
We are told that Champion will monitor and adjust cooking schedules “going forward” so as not to impact community “special events.” This revelation is a little disconcerting.
We wonder if Morinvillians enjoying backyard barbecues, playgrounds, walking the trails, soccer, baseball, gardening and outdoor patios on a gentle summer’s eve qualify as “special events.” Do weddings or other functions at the financially strapped Morinville Cultural Centre qualify as “special events”?
Champion’s CEO has worked diligently to reduce odours by improving plant technology and operations. Progress is evident. Festival sponsorships, support of community groups and substantial investments in public relations all make sense.
Yet nasty odours still bubble up periodically. And, we are still awaiting Champion’s latest odour units per metre cubed data (OUm3). Data that is supposed to measure odour patterns and intensity from different sensory points in the community.
Fining Champion $5,400 while being in violation of Bylaw 27-2010 made sense.
If there were compelling reasons to stay Champion’s fines they should have been aired publicly at a Council meeting. The administrative or political calculations that led to the attempt at a quiet, in camera, “flush” disrespected residents, wantonly undermined their ongoing concerns, and hollowed out the existing bylaw and bylaw enforcement.
This latest example of Town “mechanics” is sadly not surprising… just disappointing.
We are told that the Town of Morinville reserves the right to act on the behalf of residents at some later date. Somehow, we are neither encouraged nor inspired.
We are just left with a different aroma… and the feeling that something is broken.