Salmon Arm council is letting the provincial government know it is firmly against groundwater extraction for commercial bulk or bottled water sales. (File photos)

Salmon Arm council is letting the provincial government know it is firmly against groundwater extraction for commercial bulk or bottled water sales. (File photos)

Salmon Arm council stands firm against using groundwater for bulk or bottled sale

Mayor and councillors to tell premier, provincial ministries to consider local government wishes

Being left without a voice on whether groundwater can be extracted in Salmon Arm for a water bottling facility has propelled city council to act.

Groundwater licence applications go to the provincial Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) ministry and, typically, municipal governments are not consulted. In this case, council was not asked for input about the application on a property at 3030 40th St. SE, although the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) was, because it is the owner of the nearby landfill which falls within the consultation perimeter. The CSRD voiced opposition to the plan.

Coun. Tim Lavery crafted a motion that was supported unanimously by council. The motion expressed fundamental opposition to groundwater extraction for commercial bulk and bottled water sales, based on concerns related to having safe clean water for local consumption in the future. The motion also called for a formal role for local government in the process.

(Lavery’s motion is on page 239 of council’s May 25 agenda. Commercial ‘bulk’ water sales were added to bottled.)

Before presenting the motion, Lavery referred to a motion from the city’s environmental advisory committee and a letter from the Salmon Arm Economic Development Society, both of which expressed concerns about environmental sustainability. He noted that the Neskonlith band had also voiced concerns about the application to Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo, but Kyllo hadn’t received a substantive answer from the province.

In late 2019 the CSRD made a unanimous resolution opposing a groundwater water bottling application in Area A near Golden. The Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) has made regular motions for local governments to be a part of water extraction proposals, he said.

“It is throughout the province, I think fairly clear, that local governments feel they have a legitimate vested interest in that. It’s gone to UBCM and so far has been met with a closed door, cold shoulder response (from the provincial government).”

Lavery said he firmly believes groundwater is a public resource and local governments have a legitimate interest in its use and consumption, particularly given factors such as climate change and equitable access for non-commercial users.

He also said he’s personally against the proliferation of unnecessary products for commercial gain, especially in light of existing excellent public water utilities.

Lavery, other members of council and the letter from the economic development society said their opposition to the water extraction application is not a matter of questioning the applicant.

“I can comfortably say I would be opposing this proposal based on the rationale given, even if it came from Mother Theresa,” Lavery emphasized.

Read more: Concerns raised over water licence application in Salmon Arm for bottling water

Read more: Letter: Proposed Salmon Arm bottle water operation prompts opposition

Read more: More information on Salmon Arm water licence application surfaces

Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond said she’s heard from community members, including the proponent.

“It’s been a very interesting conversation, a very confusing process, and I humbly suggest this is a case of regulations not keeping up with the social expectations.”

She said she’d like to see council follow up on whether regulations are keeping up-to-date with this current culture of climate emergency – “and it’s my sense they’re not.”

Coun. Debbie Cannon said she too has heard from many residents as well as one of the two proponents. She doesn’t want to see the facility in Salmon Arm and she thinks it’s possible that a water-bottling company would end up being sold to a large company.

Although Coun. Kevin Flynn said he’d support the motion, he suggested more emphasis on the need for input from local government.

He also questioned the order of the elements in the motion, because a request for a presentation from those involved came after sending a letter with council’s motion to the premier, the ministers of FLNRORD and the environment ministry, and the regional office processing the application.

“If they’re just going to do it without our input or consideration or understanding, why do we need a presentation?”

Coun. Sylvia Lindgren said Canadians have been standing up against water bottling and privatizing water for at least two decades.

“I think for us just to quietly sit by and allow this one to go ahead is a big step backwards.”

Coun. Chad Eliason said although he doesn’t believe the motion will carry much weight, he will support it generally because communities want more input on what is happening within their borders and in their watersheds.

Mayor Alan Harrison said the issue is not about one application but rather whether the community wants groundwater accessed for commercial use. He said he agrees with council that it does not – and he has faith the provincial government will come into alignment with communities.


martha.wickett@saobserver.net
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

This parking on the east side of Martin Street will be removed permanently Monday morning (June 21, 2021) to put in the Lake to Lake bike lane. (City of Penticton)
Parking removed permanently to make way for bike lane in downtown Penticton

Work begins Monday morning to replace parking spots with bike lane on Martin Street

Jaimee Peters photo of a Willow Midwives helping with a birth. Willow closed its doors March 31 because of a shortage of midwives. (Contributed)
South Okanagan’s only midwifery to re-open this summer

Willow Community Midwives was forced to close because of a shortage of midwives

Gord Portman getting ready for the Father’s Day dunk tank fundraiser for Discovery House. So far Portman has raised $3,000. (Facebook)
Penticton man takes the plunge for recovery house that helped save his life

Gord Portman said Discovery House and Pathways have been everything in his 1 year sobriety

(File photo)
Supreme Court Justice rules Bay has to pay Penticton’s Cherry Lane mall

The ruling found that there had been no unavoidable delay preventing the Bay from paying their rent

Summerland cidery Millionaires' Row is hosting a Father's Day car and art show. (Facebook)
Vintage cars, art and cider for Father’s Day

Summerland’s Millionaires’ Row Cider Co. is hosting the car and art show

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed Eli Beauregard facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

Most Read