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Water bottling operation gets poor reception at CVRD meeting

COURTENAY, B.C- A plan to extract and bottle groundwater in Merville has been considered by the Comox Valley Regional District.

During the March 5th meeting of the CVRD’s Electoral Areas Services Committee, the regional government’s board room was filled to the brim by area residents opposed to the project.

The proposal, brought forward by landowners Christopher Scott Mackenzie and Regula Heynck, would have seen a rezoning of their property at 2410 Sackville Road to accommodate the extraction and bottling operation.

According to CVRD briefing documents, the operation would have had extraction of up to 10 cubic metres of water per day, or 10,000 litres per day, from the bottling plant constructed on the applicant’s property.

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A site plan for the operation, drawn from the CVRD agenda.

The province had issued a conditional water license to the business to extract that amount on November 21, 2017, after the CVRD objected to the proposal in June. However, the license required the applicants to get the property rezoned for the bottling operation.

The province regulates extraction, according to the briefing documents, while local governments control zoning.

A letter from the applicants has been circulating on social media, stating they are “sad and upset” about false information being spread about the project.

“We have no intention of selling water abroad nor are we allowed to,” reads the letter.

“We are not selling water in small plastic bottles. Our initial plan was to offer untreated water at a small U-fill station on our property but the CVRD does not allow us to have customers come to our place. Therefore we are going to offer the water in 5-gallon bottles or glass containers by home delivery. We are only serving people in the Comox Valley.”

During the meeting, the committee’s vice chair Rod Nichol suggested the idea be sent off for further study, with Chair Edwin Grieve seconding. A public hearing is planned on the issue.

“An applicant has made an application, and he has every right to do so,” said Nichol, after the meeting.

“There has to be a referral process. So, we send the information out to First Nations, to other government agencies, and local agencies, that might have a concern with what the applicant is doing on his property, and we ask for their input to better our decision.”

The CVRD’s Manager of Planning, Alana Mullaly, provided 98.9 the Goat with a list of the agencies and groups that will be included in the referral process of the rezoning application:

  • K’omoks First Nation
  • We Wai Kai Nation
  • Kwiakah First Nation
  • Homalco Band
  • We Wai Kum First Nation
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO)
  • BC Assessment
  • Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure
  • Area ‘C’ advisory planning commission
  • Agricultural advisory planning commission
  • Island Health (VIHA)

Multiple residents were opposed to the plan, with those living in the area expressing concern about local water supply.

“As a local resident, it’s hard to know how a project like this is going to affect our own wells,” said Angela Spooner, an attendee of the meeting.

“I’ve heard the equivalent of about 30 new residents, and that’s one site. Having more study is really important, and including all the advisory groups they’re talking about.”

A date for the public hearing has not yet been announced.

-with files from Justin Goulet

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