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 Cumberland

Merville’s Scott MacKenzie speaks to the Village to counter ‘emotional pleas’

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.



mike.chouinard@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Water

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

Just Posted

Comox Valley Farmers’ Market set for online shopping

An online store will complement the market and is set to start taking orders soon.

Comox Valley centre offering free online meditation and mindfulness teachings

The Comox Valley has a well-kept secret in the Sherab Chamma Tibetan… Continue reading

Comox Valley Food Bank set to reopen

The organization closed last week due to concerns around COVID-19

VIDEO: Courtenay residential community offers nightly balcony salute to frontline workers

Residents of The Tides in Courtenay gathered, social distancing intact, to salute… Continue reading

COVID-19: Isolation exemptions to frontline workers a danger to patients, say Island Health employees

Staff exempt from self-isolation upon return from international travel according to Island Health

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

Comox Valley grocers going extra mile during coronavirus

We have had numerous requests to post a fluid article directing consumers… Continue reading

B.C. Ferries passengers staying away, as asked, during COVID-19 pandemic

Ferry corporation says ridership down 70-80 per cent over the last week and a half

Sewers stitch masks to free up supplies for front-line health-care workers

“We have little old ladies sewing up a storm,” said Joan Davis

Experts weigh in on best handling of groceries during COVID-19 pandemic

Study suggests the virus can live for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic

COVID-19 world update: Enforceable quarantine in NYC?; France orders 1 billion masks

Spain warns EU’s future at stake; New York governor calls Trump’s idea ‘federal declaration of war

Duncan man asks community to donate RVs to essential workers in need of quarantine

Ryan Oakley creates a Facebook group to help coordinate the effort

Earth Hour 2020 kicks off online Saturday night

Action moves online due to COVID-19

Most Read