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Barlow says Erin Town Council made a “a big mistake” by voting in favour of Nestlé money

Two children express their view before the vote. Photo by @putfoodinbudget

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow says the Town Council of Erin made “a big mistake” by voting in favour of accepting funds from Nestlé Waters Canada in relation to the water the transnational extracts from the local Hillsburgh well for their bottled water operations.

On February 1, Nestlé proposed to town council that they would give the town 50 cents for every 1,000 litres of water they extract from the well. Nestlé said the town would get at least $25,000 annually and estimates are the town could receive about $40,000 a year through this so-called ‘community benefit fund’.

CTV now reports, “A council meeting in Erin [on April 18] was standing room only after residents packed the chambers to voice their opinions on whether or not the town should accept a levy from Nestlé Waters Canada.”

The Wellington Advertiser adds, “Citizens jeered Erin council after it votes 4-1 to accept Nestle Waters voluntary levy.”

On April 4, the Green Well Ecological Collaborative recommended an alternative to the five-person town council. The group said it would launch a social media campaign to raise the money. Linda Rosier, a spokesperson for the group, told councillors, “If the only reason you’re saying ‘yes’ is because you need $40,000, we’ll come up with the $40,000 through a social media campaign.”

Nestlé Waters Canada is a subsidiary of Nestle S.A, the Swiss based transnational which had sales of about $116 billion in 2015.

The CBC has reported, “Mike Nagy of the Wellington Water Watchers said the fund is a ‘quasi-profit situation’ and no municipality should profit from the sale of water. ‘We just fundamentally oppose seeing water going out of the community and then, hey, here’s a little bit of cash for your trouble.'”

Barlow adds, “Nestlé is a predator.”

Nestlé’s current permit to extract 1.1 million litres of water per day from Hillsburgh expires on August 31, 2017.