qathet Regional District’s (qRD) planning committee will consider a policy on the bottling of water.
At the July 30 qRD board meeting, directors considered correspondence from Vancouver Island resident Bruce Gibbons, who has led an active campaign to prohibit the bottling of water.
In his correspondence, Gibbons said he had read the minutes of qRD meeting where the matter had been discussed and he understands the regional district does not have the framework to implement a land-use bylaw for prohibition of the bottling of water. He said he thought a policy document might serve the purpose and forwarded information from Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD).
City director George Doubt moved for receipt of the letter, but Electoral Area D director Sandy McCormick said she thought the board should go a little bit further than just receiving it.
“The writer makes a really good point that while we don’t have the framework for a bylaw to prohibit water bottling, we could, in fact, develop a policy,” said McCormick. “The policy sample they have included from the SCRD seems to make a lot of sense. I would like to add to that motion to ask staff for a report on adopting a policy regarding water bottling in qathet Regional District.”
McCormick said she was moving an amendment to the motion to receive the correspondence.
Doubt asked if McCormick’s idea of a policy was to cover the parts of the regional district covered by the planning committee, or the entire regional district. She said she was just thinking of Electoral Areas A, B, C and D, which are covered by the planning committee. She said City of Powell River has its own policy and Lasqueti Island is not part of the planning service.
“It would make sense to have the four areas in the planning service,” said McCormick.
Doubt said the matter should probably be referred to the qRD planning committee and suggested that should happen, as opposed to staff bringing back a policy to the board.
McCormick said she could agree to that initiative and that her amendment should reflect this.
Electoral Area B director Mark Gisborne said he completely concurred that this matter should go to the planning committee. He said, however, that he is not entirely comfortable with the policy statement from SCRD because it says it does not support extraction of freshwater resources in gas, liquid or solid form for the purpose of commercial bottled water sales.
“I would like to see in that policy that it states commercial sales of water outside of the regional district because I would like to remind people there are individuals in the community that have challenges getting bottled water and there are businesses that provide folks potable water,” said Gisborne. “Those businesses should be able to continue to operate and people should be able to still get their water, but we don’t want commercially bottled water shipped out of Powell River.”
The board voted to send the matter to the planning committee, then considered a second piece of correspondence from Gibbons, regarding the province’s inaction on a Union of British Columbia Municipalities resolution on groundwater extraction for bottling. Gibbons said he was “extremely disappointed, but not surprised.”
Gibbons requested that the regional district submit correspondence to the minister of forests, lands, natural resource operations and rural development expressing its concern about inaction on the resolution and asking that the government reconsider its position.
“Government must take a precautionary approach to the protection of groundwater and not merely rely on the accuracy of calculations of the sustainability of commercial water bottling operations,” stated Gibbons.
Doubt said he’d like to move that qRD submit correspondence to the minister, expressing its concern about the inaction of the resolution and asking that the government reconsider its position.
Doubt said he thinks this allows qRD to comment to the minister for the BC government to do more.
“I’ve heard from many constituents from the regional district and the city saying they want us to do exactly that, and this is an opportunity to get our two bits in,” said Doubt.
The regional board voted unanimously to send the letter to the minister.