A resident holds up a sign expressing opposition to a water bottling operation in the Merville area at a CVRD meeting on March 5th, 2018. Photo by Justin Goulet/98.9 The Goat/Vista Radio
CAMPBELL RIVER, B.C. – Strathcona Regional District (SRD) board members have made it clear that they will not support commercial water extraction in their district.
Or anywhere in Vancouver Island, for that matter.
At its Oct. 25 meeting, the board carried a motion that the premier and the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources and Rural Development “be advised that the district does not support approvals of licenses for the extraction of groundwater anywhere from aquafers on Vancouver Island to be sold for commercial purposes, such as water bottling, bulk water export or private sales.”
The motion comes after Merville resident Gillian Anderson wrote a letter expressing her concern over an application to amend a water bottling licence to allow transport of water.
In the letter, Anderson urged the province to decline the proposed amendment of a water licence to allow the removal of water from the aquifer for transport by tanker truck to other jurisdictions.
On Aug. 28, a proposal to bottle water in Merville was defeated by the Comox Valley Regional District.
Two residents of Sackville Road in Merville had applied to the CVRD for their property to be re-zoned in order to allow for the development of a water bottling operation, after the provincial government granted a license for water extraction back in November.
If approved, the operation would have seen the extraction of up to 10,000 litres of ground water per day from the family well of Christopher Scott Mackenzie and Regula Heynck.
The project had received conditional approval from the province, and was waiting on a rezoning decision from the district.
Area C Director Jim Abram said the applicants’ proposal was “turned down soundly” by the CVRD.
“That person who made the application for the rezoning had a stipulation in the license that was issued to him by senior governments that said he could extract so much water from the property that he was on, and that it had to be bottled on that property,” Abram explained.
“That stipulation was not followed. It was not allowed by the regional district, therefore the provincial government should have, in all good conscience, withdrawn the issuance of that license.”
Abram said instead, the applicant lobbied “everybody and their dog” in the surrounding areas to be able to locate a plant that he would then ship water to, from a property that “he was only allowed to bottle water on, after extracting it.”
“He wanted to then ship it to another place where he could bottle it and sell it.”
This lit a fire under Abram who said, “I am absolutely opposed and always will be, to anybody extracting water and selling (water) for commercial purposes, when this is a common commodity that is owned by every resident of B.C. and every resident of the world.”
Abram said the applicant has no right to extract the water and sell it, no matter what the province or federal government says.
He also cited environmental concerns, noting that the region is experiencing more drastic droughts every year and “fires that are unprecedented.”
“This was the worst fire season in history this last year, which just beat the year before which was the worst year,” Abram said. “So now we’ve had two worst years in a row, we have aquifers that are not being adequately mapped, or quantified by the provincial government, and yet they are allowing people to willy-nilly take water and sell it to other places.
“This is absolute insanity and it needs to be stopped immediately. Our regional district did not support it and as far as I’m concerned we will not support it… this applicant has no right to come into an area outside of the Comox Valley to try and bottle this water and sell it to whomever he was going to sell it to.”
Abram added that the region cannot afford to squander water for the “financial gain of one entity.”