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Home occupation for Merville property decision sticks

The Comox Valley Regional District’s decision to confirm the use of a home occupation for a Merville property stands.

This comes after Bruce Gibbons of Merville Water Guardians and Merville farmer Arzeena Hamir presented to the board Tuesday, requesting reconsideration of the approval.

Area directors voted earlier in March, confirming the home occupancy for a property on Sackville Road.

In 2017, the province issued a water licence to the owners of the property to “divert and use water for industrial (freshwater bottling) purpose.” It authorized the extraction of up to 10 cubic metres of ground water from an aquifer on the property per day.

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However, an application to amend the bylaw to allow bottling on the property was unsuccessful in 2018. The applicant is proposing treatment and two storage tanks with a drive-thru dispensing unit, with the home occupation not permitting bottling.

Hamir questioned whether the bylaw and the decision follow through with their intentions.

“Does it support agriculture? Does it support the extraction of ground water? I believe it fails on both, and I hope that the directors who are in charge of this decision will reconsider that decision and support the intent of the community,” said Hamir.

Hamir acknowledged that while the district does not have the ability to licence water, it can influence what happens above ground.

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Scott Mackenzie, one of the property’s owners said he is not finalized on the licence and says he likely would not use the full 10 cubic metres of water per day.

A vote of areas A, B and C directors saw a 2 –1 vote to approve the decision made earlier in the month, with director Daniel Arbour opposed.

Director Edwin Grieve proposed a motion to request changes to the bylaw with water sales to home occupation.

Director Jonathan Kerr added individuals should take the issue to MLA’s and the province.

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“Use your energy, your passion, your time and direct it to the true decision makers on this issue,” said Kerr. “Speak to your local MLA, write letters to the minister and premier, lobby the government to change the regulations with respect to water use, bulk water storage, [and] water bottling.”

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