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Leonard concerned about water commodification in wake of bottling proposal

COURTENAY, B.C- Ronna Rae Leonard is concerned about water usage in the Comox Valley.

Leonard, who serves as the MLA in Courtenay Comox, has been hearing back from concerned residents of the Valley after a proposal came up to the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) for a water bottling operation.

The operation, if it went ahead, could see the extraction of up to 10,000 litres per day of groundwater from a property along Sackville Road. The provincial government has already given conditional approval, pending the decisions made by the CVRD.

The idea has been unpopular amongst a number of Valley residents, with protestors filling the CVRD offices during the proposal’s last appearance before the body.

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Those opposed to the project have also been seeking to write letters to Leonard on the matter. Reached by 98.9 The Goat for comment this week, Leonard said she had been hearing about the issue.

“Water is a precious resource, and we have to be managing it to the benefit of the people in the Comox Valley,” said Leonard.

While she couldn’t comment on the approval process, she did indicate that she’s been speaking with other members of government about the bottling operation.

She also said she was in a meeting with leadership from K’ómoks First Nation, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Scott Fraser, and Doug Donaldson, who serves as the Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.

Chief Nicole Rempel of K’ómoks First Nation (KFN) has previously said the nation was “disappointed, but not surprised” to hear of the license being conditionally approved.

Leonard said there was no decision made at that meeting, but “concerns were raised”, which will be followed up.

As for what she wants to see happen, Leonard said that what was in the best interest of the community would be “top of mind”, though there were concerns that needed to be looked at.

She mentioned that wells in the area around the proposal tend to run dry in the late summer and early fall, though she believed that existing regulations would ensure that users would still receive their water.

Overall, she is planning to keep tabs on what’s going on, with the goal of ensuring water resources are being managed responsibly.

“It’s important that we protect our water, it’s our most precious resource,” said Leonard.

“It’s what got me into politics, actually, in the very first place. I had an opportunity to sit on a water board in my community, and what really drove me was that water is life. If we don’t look after our water resources, we’re in trouble.”

She believes the concerns being raised are ones she’s had before.

“I think that the concerns that people have raised are concerns that I have had myself on the commodification of water,” said Leonard.

“We have to always make sure that we are using our water in a responsible way, and managing it for our communities and for the best use of us as human beings on this planet.”

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