Christopher Mackenzie reacts to the denial of his bottling proposal on Sackville Road in Merville during a meeting of the Advisory Planning Commission of the Comox Valley Regional District on May 3rd 2018. Photo by James Wood/98.9 The Goat/Vista Radio
COURTENAY, B.C- The Merville water bottling proposal has hit another roadbump.
One of the applicants for the proposal, Sackville road resident Christopher Scott Mackenzie, appeared before the Advisory Planning Commission of the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) yesterday evening.
The commission is a body that provides recommendations to the board of directors for the CVRD, made up of residents of the area.
As discussion progressed between the members and Mackenzie, it became clear that a majority of the group were against approval of Mackenzie’s proposal, which would require rezoning of his land for industrial use.
A vote for denial of that rezoning was passed during the meeting.
If approved, the operation would see the extraction of up to 10,000 litres of ground water per day from Mackenzie’s family well along Sackville Road.
The project has received conditional approval from the province, and is waiting on a rezoning decision from the district.
Pushback from the community has been organized, with a group called the Merville Water Guardians forming. The CVRD meeting office was filled with audience members during yesterday’s discussion.
The denial from the commission does not mean the end of the proposed bottling business, but it will be a factor in what the CVRD’s board of director’s decides to do.
The commission will send a formal recommendation to the CVRD’s board of directors for when they decide to examine the plan.
Mackenzie is already thinking of backup plans, and was frustrated with the outcome of the meeting. He indicated he’ll be looking at the sale of water from his property without the rezoning, as well as the possibility of leasing an industrial site for sale in another location.
“I have a couple of options,” said Mackenzie.
“Because we are a farm, we are soon to be in the farm tax status. We could easily use it as something that is produced from our property from that standpoint. As a farm, you can produce anything on your property, and sell it from the end of your driveway.”
Mackenzie also said provincial authorities were fully aware of the “goings-on” at the local level. As for what he wants to see happen, he re-stated the goals of his business.
“I would like to see people from Merville be able to come and get some water when their well goes dry,” said Mackenzie.
“Some people with shallow wells in the neighbourhood are complaining that they’re not getting good access to water, well guess what, we’ve got lots of it. For some reason, it was a secret in my neighbourhood for decades, and all of a sudden it’s a problem, because one guy gets a license for one kids swimming pool of water every day?”
He also had no plans to change his approach to the local authourities when it came to seeking approval.
“My rights have already been defined by law,” said Mackenzie.
A CVRD staff report on the bottling proposal is expected later in the summer.