The Council of Canadians Guelph chapter was at Guelph City Hall last night to support a motion that would have the City of Guelph send a letter to the Ontario provincial government stating its “concern that the permit to take water is not in the best interest of the City of Guelph and the watershed shared by the City of Guelph”.
Nestle is applying to the provincial government for a 10-year renewal of its 5-year permit (granted in 2011) to extract 3.6 million litres of water a day from the Grand River watershed. The Aberfoyle permit expired on July 31, but Nestle has continued to pump water under the terms of the old permit as the ministry reviews its application.
Throughout the evening the Guelph chapter provided updates:
5:30 pm – Nestlé packed the Council Chamber, but delegates can still speak whereas the audience members cannot. There is an overflow room set up so all can view the proceedings.
6:30 pm – Outside City Hall at the Rally for Water. The sizeable crowd listened intently to various speakers and performers, and then proceeded inside to listen to the Council proceedings on the matter of Nestlé’s water takings in Guelph and surrounding aquifers. Nestlé bused in their workers in a bid to pack the Chamber, so most protesters were left to watch the proceedings in an overflow room.
7:30 pm – Thus far, the Council and audience have heard from several delegates, one of who was pro Nestlé taking water with the rest speaking against or representing government bodies which are required to remain balanced.
8:30 pm – It’s going to be a very long night in the Council Chamber. Each speaker is given 5 minutes with questions to follow. At this point, there are 30 delegates remaining and a break coming up shortly. Most have been single person speakers, but there have been youth groups at the mic. Hooray for civic engagement!
11 pm – Around 40 delegates are slated to speak tonight and the video feed just cut out. Now people in the overflow room are down to just audio with roughly 10 speakers left.
In her deputation (presented at about 11:45 pm), Guelph chapter activist Lin Grist told City Council, “We have been holding Nestle’s bottled water business accountable here in Guelph for about ten years now. For the last year, we have been working to stop Nestle from getting permits for the Middlebrook well. In response to Nestle trumping the bid of the township of Centre Wellington to buy Middlebrook, we asked our supporters to commit to a boycott of all bottled water and all Nestle products. Over 40,000 people have declared their support for the boycott.”
And Grist highlighted, “The renewal of Nestle’s permits to take water is not in the best interest of the City of Guelph. Groundwater resources are finite. Droughts, climate change and over-extraction continue to impact our limited water sources. Ontario has recently experienced a series of devastating droughts. At this pace, communities will not have enough for their future needs. Water is a human right, a commons and a public trust, to be shared, protected, carefully managed and enjoyed by all who live around it. Water should not be a source of profit.”
Guelph-based writer Adam A. Donaldson tweeted:
– Grist is here for everybody’s grandchildren, that can’t speak for themselves yet.
– 40K have supported CoC boycott of bottle water products after Nestle bought Middlebrook.
– Many members of CoC have called on the MOECC [Ministry of Environment and Climate Change] on the moratorium and proposed changes to PTTW [Permit to Take Water] process.
– “Water is a human right,” Grist wraps up on.
Guelph chapter activist Paul Costello and Toronto-based Council of Canadians organizer Mark Calzavara were also at last night’s City Council meeting and handed out more than 100 of our Boycott Nestle buttons.
At around 12:15 am this morning an 11-0 vote allowed the motion to go forward for a final vote on November 28.