Residents packed the CVRD’s boardroom at a committee meeting in March to protest a proposed water bottling operation in the Merville area. File photo/Comox Valley Record

Strathcona Regional District board takes stand against water bottling

Proponent from unsuccessful bid in Merville area might be looking north

If the proponent of a water bottling operation in the Merville area is looking north for a new site, he might need to look a little farther.

In August, the Comox Valley Regional District turned down the application from Christopher Scott MacKenzie and wife for the business. MacKenzie was apparently already looking north to the Strathcona Regional District, but he might have a tough time getting buy-in.

RELATED STORY: Comox Valley Regional District defeats Merville water bottling operation application

“It’s something that we should absolutely oppose,” Area C Director Jim Abram said at the outset of the Oct. 25 SRD board meeting. “It was turned down by the Comox Valley Regional District, and now he’s out fishing for other places to do a water bottling plant.”

Abram said the region cannot afford to allow commercial proposals for the extraction of water because of the need for communities to protect groundwater in a time of climate change and threats to water supply.

“This is just insane, so I’d hope that everybody will just not support this,” he said.

At the board meeting, the SRD directors tackled the broader issue in general rather than any specific business request. They had received a letter from Merville resident Gillian Anderson, who wanted to call attention to the proposal.

Abram was far from alone in expressing opposition to the idea. Area D Director Brenda Leigh said she does not support the idea of licences for the extraction of groundwater anywhere on Vancouver Island for commercial purposes such as water bottling, bulk water export or private sales.

“Water is a human right and a necessity for all life. When any corporate entity tries to commodify it and sell it for profit, it is a threat to our common, public right to water, and we have seen the results of this around the world when private corporations get control of public water sources,” she said following the meeting.

Leigh successfully made a motion to contact the premier and the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources and Rural Development to advise them the SRD does not support approvals of licenses for the extraction of groundwater anywhere from aquifers on Vancouver Island to be sold for commercial purposes, such as water bottling, bulk water export or private sales. She also wants to bring attention to the issue at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) and the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities (AVICC). This motion also passed.

Leigh had attended the CVRD public hearing and heard strong opposition from residents of the area, who felt their groundwater was potentially threatened by the proposed bottling operation on Sackville Road.

“It was an overwhelming ‘no, you can’t take this water for our aquifer,’” she said.

Leigh also pointed out to the SRD board the licence was contingent upon the CVRD approving the bottling plant on site.

“Now he’s trying to split off the water bottling plant and take it somewhere into our regional district but still relying on the Sackville Road aquifer,” she said.

Leigh reiterated the proposal would still negatively impact the residents of the Merville area.

“We can’t allow this,” she said. “This is a public resource.”

Ron Kerr, one of the Campbell River directors on the board, worried the motion might be too restrictive in that it might also cover a brewery or juice company that might want to open a business requiring water. Abram responded that the motion simply covers bulk water export and sales.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sawyer, a northern saw-whet owl that became synonymous with Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society, passed away peacefully over the weekend. Sawyer would make numerous public appearances with MARS staff in and around the Comox Valley and Campbell River. Photo supplied.
Popular MARS ambassador owl dies

Submitted MARS Wildlife Rescue has lost one of its mightiest ambassadors. Tiny… Continue reading

Those who want to view the Strathcona Regional District’s public meetings will have to do so after the fact by going to their Youtube Channel. Photo courtesy Youtube.
No live public option for SRD meetings again

Public Health Order says governments must make ‘best efforts’ to give public a live option

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

The students in the Timberline Musical Theatre program rehearse this year’s production, Once Upon a Mattress, three days per week after school in preparation for next month’s virtual performances. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror
Timberline’s popular musical goes online for 2021

Once Upon a Mattress will be streamed right to your living room thanks to school’s AV department

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Residents of the Cowichan Valley decorated more than 55 vehicles with anti-racist slogans for a car rally in support of Cowichan Tribes on Saturday, January 24. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Dozens join anti-racism car rally and virtual panel in Cowichan Valley

Provincial ministry and BC Green caucus issue joint statement detailing concerns

Jesse Savidant, 31, is wanted by the RCMP after failing to appear in provincial court in Nanaimo in December. Police warn Savidant should be considered violent. (Photo Submitted)
Warrant out for man accused of stolen property offences across Vancouver Island

Jesse Savidant did not appear for court date in Nanaimo last month, say RCMP

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is urging visitors to stay on designated trails after a hiker became injured in an unsanctioned area last week. (Westerly file photo)
Injured hiker rescued in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

Most Read