The rezoning application for a property in Merville to accommodate a water bottling operation has been unanimously defeated.
The decision was made by the Comox Valley Regional District board of directors Tuesday following a public hearing in late July which drew nearly 150 people.
CVRD director Rodney Nichol moved to defeat the application and director Edwin Grieve – who represents Electoral Area C where the property is located – seconded.
“Throughout this entire process, I have maintained an open and impartial mind, and every indication is that the other directors have done the same,” said Grieve.
“In the light of all the overwhelming public opposition and almost unanimous non-support from all the external agencies, not to mention our own K’ómoks First Nation… I will not in good conscience support this rezoning.”
Nichol said if the provincial government had not granted the conditional water licence in the first place, this whole process could have been avoided.
“I’m very disappointed in our province of British Columbia on this matter and actually several other matters where they grant permission to do things without consulting with us, and I think they’re going to have to start learning that they do have a duty to consult with local government prior to granting any form of permit or licence.”
The applicant, Christopher Scott MacKenzie, said he already has plans to head north to the Strathcona Regional District and bottle water there. He said he is in the process of looking for a suitable lease site in the district, but his water will still be stored at his Merville property.
“We will be selling here locally like we always planned. We’re still going to build a building on our location in Merville to store whatever we like because we’re already zoned for home industrial occupation.”
MacKenzie said this whole situation arose due to a misunderstanding.
“Somewhere along the line someone didn’t like it and started telling everyone that their wells were going to go dry,” he said, adding that people simply do not understand the “hydrology of the aquifer” adding that he only wants to take a tiny amount of the “trillions of litres of water” available and this would not cause residents’ wells to dry up.
“We haven’t removed any of the water from the aquifer yet, but we will.”