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Courtenay prohibits groundwater bottling

The City of Courtenay is saying no, for the most part, to water bottling.

On Monday, Council adopted a zoning bylaw that will prohibit water bottling in the municipality, except city water.

Mayor Bob Wells said council listened to residents’ concerns.

“I think we really heard from our community that this is not something that people are really supporting so as a council we decided to support our community,” he said.

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In January, council discussed a delegation request from Merville resident Bruce Gibbons, the founder of the Merville Water Guardians.

Last year, the Guardians led vocal opposition to a water bottling proposal in the Merville area, which was eventually denied by the CVRD.

At the time of the denial, proponent Christopher Mackenzie stated he intended to look for other locations to bottle water from his property in Merville.

Wells said water bottling restrictions are being implemented across Vancouver Island.

“It’s not even just the (Comox) valley,” he said. “At the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities conference earlier this year, there was an actual resolution there that passed, so this is something our whole coastal communities are really in support of.”

Gibbons isn’t surprised by the decision but says he had hoped for a widespread ban.

“I would have preferred a complete ban on water bottling but my actual request of them was to prohibit the bottling of groundwater so I am pleased that they’re only allowing the bottling of city water,” he said. “There’s not a big appetite for going through the process of bottling city water so it doesn’t worry me so much as the bottling of our groundwater.”

We don’t know enough about our groundwater to extract water from it for profit, says Gibbons.

“When you look around the world, California is in a crisis situation, there are several aquifers across the U.S. that are very close to crisis situations, there are countries around the world that are in the middle of huge water crises because of over-pumping of our groundwater,” he added. “So we’re in a good position right now where B.C. has an abundance of water,  so I think we need to protect it and have a good supply of that precious resource and we don’t just allow a few individuals or corporations to extract the water and sell it for profit.”

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