The recent Provincial Court ruling to stay violations tickets issued to Champion Pet Foods through a negotiated solution between Morinville and Champion was supported by Council. Council was made aware of the terms of the agreement, the legal opinion and recommendations from staff and supported the CAO in negotiating this agreement. It is important to understand that charges issued under a bylaw create a ticket, which can be challenged when a not guilty plea is submitted. It is prudent for the Town to assess each case where there is a not guilty plea and balance the goal of compliance with the costs of proceeding with a full trial. In cases that are very expensive to prosecute, if the Town can achieve compliance or an acceptable level of progress to compliance with a negotiated solution, the Town needs to consider whether a settlement is the most appropriate, fiscally responsible course of action. Council believes that the agreement with Champion for ongoing commitment to continue to reduce the frequency, duration and intensity of odour put the Town and its residents in a better position in relation to odour mitigation than any payment of fines would have. As this process evolved, the Town was prepared to go to trial if terms of compliance could not be agreed upon. I want to stress that this agreement does not in any way set a precedent or prevent the Town from future enforcement action. However, since the installation of a new oven and exhaust stack in July 2012, the Town has received fewer complaints and experienced fewer days of odour indicating Champion is making efforts towards compliance.
The prosecution of Champion under the Community Standards Bylaw was a matter before the Courts and involved a number of legal issues. When Council is discussing a matter before the Courts or hearing updates on legal advice, it holds discussions “In-Camera” as per the Municipal Government Act and Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. For this reason, most of Council’s discussions about the Champion matters have been in camera. Council takes “In-Camera” seriously and follows the rules when discussing items under “Land, Labor and Legal.” There is no question that Champion discussions were in fact “Legal” and for those same reasons could not be discussed in public. Council cannot and has not made decisions “in camera” but in our “in camera” sessions we heard regular updates from Ms. Oyarzun and discussed those updates with her. She acted in the Champion matter knowing Council supported her approach and decisions. Council and Administration will continue to work with Champion to make this the best community to live, work and play.