Cumberland council still wants to push the Province for greater groundwater protection.
Members of council responded to a message from Bruce Gibbons of Merville Water Guardians about the lack of action by the Province toward a Union of British Columbia Municipalities resolution calling for no licensing and extraction of groundwater for commercial bottling purposes.
Gibbons had led the opposition to a water bottling operation proposed for the Merville area and has raised the issue with local governments such as Cumberland’s. In his submission to council, he included the Province’s response, which said that under the Water Sustainability Act, any application for water use is reviewed to ensure sustainability and to protect existing uses.
“It’s not the response we wanted, and I am extremely disappointed, but not surprised. The response is the same as every response we have received previously,” he wrote to Cumberland council.
Gibbons asked council to contact the Minister of Forests Lands Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development to express concern, and to ask the Province to reconsider its position.
At the June 22 council meeting, Coun. Jesse Ketler said the next chance to bring the issue up at UBCM will be online rather than in person.
“I think there would be an opportunity to bring this forward again there, maybe talk to the UBCM executive and have some more advocacy around this,” she said.
Mayor Leslie Baird said they should find out soon whether they will have online meetings with ministers as part of this forum. She said this opportunity would probably prove to be stronger than a letter to the Province. In response to a question from Coun. Vickey Brown about writing a letter as well as meeting ministers, the mayor agreed a letter would be the right initial move.
Council passed a motion to write the letter and will also contact the UBCM about the next steps to take in bringing forward the issue, ideally before ministers.
Early in the year, Cumberland’s council, in response to a request from Gibbons, moved to ban bottled water businesses within its zoning bylaw.
Shortly after, the proponent of the bottling operation planned in Merville, Scott MacKenzie, appeared before council to refute claims by his opponents, saying his water licence with the provincial government, among other things, would not make wells run dry or harm nearby land.