Guelph council unanimously supports staff report surrounding water-taking regulations

It’s an issue that’s garnered national attention since it was brought forward by Guelph Councillor James Gordon back in September.

Councillor Gordon stirred up controversy after he asked the city to officially oppose a new ten year water-taking renewal permit for Nestle Water Canada’s Aberfoyle aquifer over concerns of how much H2O the bottled water company is taking. Nestle pumps 3.6 million litres of water a day and only pays $3.71 per million litres drawn.

Monday night, the same council that heard from over 40 delegations on all sides of the arguments over three months, voted without opposition to endorse a staff report listing eight recommendations that will be sent to Queen’s Park to help them with their review on water-taking permit regulations within the province.

The list of recommendations includes:

-Supporting the 2019 moratorium set by the province.
-Development of a provincially funded water management program.
-Overall promotion of quality of tap water and consumption of public water.
-Council direction of staff to continue to promote reduction of waste, recycling and reuse within the Guelph.

Council has also voted to consult First Nations communities that are affected by water-taking from bottled companies in Wellington County.

Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie tells 570 News he’s glad his city can be a leader on the dividing issue. “It’s not an issue of spending money in one place or another. When it comes to our finite resources, it’s important we have a unified voice because it affects all of us, not just in our city or country, but the entire world for that matter.”

Guthrie adds issues surrounding water taking can’t be taken lightly. “We have to take this stuff seriously. When this issue comes up next, we’ll know how to deal with it. As a Mayor, council, staff, and city, we have to keep in mind the best interests of our citizens.”

Out of the ten delegations that spoke Monday night in front of a packed crowd, eight of those were environmental-based advocacy groups and ground-water experts including Leader of the Green Party of Ontario Mike Schreiner, who said publicly at the meeting that out of the people he’s spoke to, 95% of them seem to support the denial of the Aberfoyle Aquifer permit over concerns of ground-water depletion and negative environmental impact.

Ontario has set a January 1st, 2019 moratorium which means the province is prohibiting any new or increased use of groundwater taking for bottling companies.

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