Merville property owner Scott MacKenzie speaks to Cumberland council about his proposed water bottling operation. Photo by Mike Chouinard

Water bottling proponent defends plan to Island community

Merville’s Scott MacKenzie speaks to Cumberland about its bottling ban

The Merville resident who wants to bottle water from his property offered a counterpoint to criticisms of his plans before Cumberland council on Monday.

Scott MacKenzie asked to appear before council in response to requests asking local governments to ban bottling of groundwater in area communities. Most of his presentation was directed at the claims of the “proponent” of the ban, though he did not identify the person, beyond saying he was a neighbour. MacKenzie said his aim was to correct the record, including statements from elected officials about the issue.

“We are not taking our opinion around to be heard. In fact, we are only countering the proponent’s claims that have arisen due to his emotional pleas to every council and every regional district in the entire province,” he said.

MacKenzie has a licence to extract up to 10,000 litres of groundwater a day from his property. However, when it came to getting approval for bottling it, he ran into opposition at the regional district level. In August 2018, the CVRD turned down the rezoning application, at which time he expressed interest in looking elsewhere to bottle the water. Opponents though pressured municipal and regional governments to remove the possibility of bottling water, with elected officials responding by calling for larger regional bans on bottling. For example, the Strathcona Regional District has pushed for a broad ban through motions to the Association of Vancouver and Coastal Communities Association and the Union of British Columbia Municipalities.

RELATED STORY: CVRD defeats Merville water bottling operation application

RELATED STORY: Strathcona Regional District board passes bottled water resolution for AVICC meeting

In the case of Cumberland, council responded recently with a move to ban bottled water businesses within its zoning bylaw.

RELATED STORY: Cumberland moves to ban bottled water businesses from zoning bylaw

MacKenzie dismissed claims his operation would cut off water access for his neighbours, would make their wells run dry or that land would be affected.

“Artesian wells of this nature are very rare,” he said. “Our licence was issued because we have discovered the best artesian spring in the entire Comox Valley. It’s the third on Vancouver Island.”

He also questioned the proponent’s claims about zoning in the area of Merville. Nor would his proposal open a “Pandora’s box” of bottling corporations “thirsty for profits,” adding that his intent was to keep the business local and that he could not legally sell the business to another party.

MacKenzie said his well was not connected to stream flows, and it produces 80,000 litres per day without pumping.

“The proponent does not trust the expertise of loyal public servants who are experts in their fields,” he said.

He said the aquifer recharges each year and cited communities like Gibson, Langley and Abbotsford with water systems that rely on recharging aquifers.

“The proponent has utilized many effective tactics thus far,” he said, saying this has included dismissing the message, distorting facts and distracting the audience.

“Let’s make clear our intentions are nothing the proponent claims,” he added. “No corporation would ever come to steal Cumberland’s water.”

Following the presentation, Mayor Leslie Baird told MacKenzie she wished he had taken a different approach from going after people to make his case.

“I truly do wish you had taken a different tactic,” she said. “You were here to talk about your views, not the proponent’s views, and I wish you had taken that tactic.”

At the end of the night, Bruce Gibbons, founder of Merville Water Guardians, identified himself as the “proponent,” and thanked council for moving ahead with the water bottling ban and asked about next steps in the process.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


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

Just Posted

VIDEO: Humpback whales put on a rare show near Campbell River

The ‘playful’ pod lingered by a local tour operator’s boat for quite some time

Strathcona Regional District reports on progress towards carbon neutrality

Director travel and natural gas at Strathcona Gardens largest contributors to emissions

North Island MP calls for feds to implement automatic approval of disability benefits

MP Rachel Blaney has asked for automatic approvals to address the ‘extreme backlog’ of Veterans’ disability benefit applications

Recycling depots in Campbell River, Courtenay to close

The unstaffed recyling depot at Strathcona Gardens Recreation Complex is set to close July 1

Strathcona Regional District reopens electoral area outdoor park facilities

Basketball, tennis courts, skateparks in three EAs open

Mission prison COVID-19 outbreak ends, 9 new cases in B.C.

New positive test at Port Coquitlam care home

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Mirror business directory and map

If you’d like to be added to the list, shoot us an email

Man who bound, murdered Vancouver Island teen still a risk to public: parole board

Kimberly Proctor’s killer is still ‘mismanaging emotions,’ has had ‘temper tantrums’

Getting hitched at historic B.C. gold rush town still on table during COVID-19 pandemic

Micro-weddings, online visits, offered at Barkerville Historic Town and Park

Stolen gargoyle returns to its perch on central Vancouver Island yard

Petey, a concrete gargoyle statue, was returned by Nanaimo RCMP after being found by city crew

Revelstoke woman finds welcoming letter on her Alberta-registered truck

There have been multiple reports online of vandalism to vehicles with Alberta licence plates

Spirit bear possibly spotted in West Kootenay

A local resident spotted the white-coloured bear while on an evening trail run near Castlegar on May 27

B.C. businesses ‘can’t shoulder burden’ of COVID-19 sick pay

Trudeau’s plan should be tied to federal emergency aid

Most Read