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Guelph chapter to rally at City Hall against Nestle water taking permit

Guelph City Hall

The Council of Canadians Guelph chapter will be at a rally at Guelph City Hall on September 26 to demand that their City Council oppose Nestle’s application to the province to extract water in nearby Aberfoyle.

Nestle is applying to the provincial government for a 10-year renewal of its permit 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 and conditions of the old permit as the ministry reviews its application.

The Council of Canadians supports the motion by Ward 2 Councillor James Gordon for the City to oppose Nestle’s application. We urged our Guelph-area members with this action alert to contact City Council to express their support for the motion prior to a September 12 City Council planning meeting. More than 560 letters were sent to City Council via our website. The Guelph Mercury reports Councillor Gordon saying, “Councillors and the mayor have each received more than 500 emails supporting the motion, and it’s become a national issue.”

Following the tabling of that motion on September 12, the motion is now on the agenda for debate at a Guelph City Council meeting on September 26. Mayor Cam Guthrie says people won’t be allowed to speak at that meeting. But a large protest is expected to take place that day at 5 pm that day to support the motion.

The Facebook promotion for the protest says, “Water is Life. We must protect it from privatization and exploitation for profit. You are welcome to join us for a family-friendly gathering to honour and protect the water. Bring costumes, instruments, noise makers, signs and art to join Gary Diggins, local sound healer as he leads the group on a sound parade. There will be performances by water activist Shane Phillips and others. Please join us afterwards as we parade into City Hall to sit in council and show our support for [Councillor Gordon’s] motion.”

Despite Mayor Guthrie saying people will not be allowed to speak, the Facebook promotion adds that to register to speak to the motion that evening, please register with City Hall by September 23 by emailing clerks@guelph.ca

If the motion is passed on September 26, it will go to an October 3 committee of the whole meeting for further debate, and then to a City Council meeting on October 24 for final approval.

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow will be highlighting our opposition to Nestle at this public forum in Guelph on September 22, just days before the September 26 City Council debate.

The Council of Canadians has previously raised concerns about Nestle’s water-taking business in Aberfoyle. In 2008, the Council of Canadians Guelph chapter and Wellington Water Watchers campaigned against Nestle and succeeded in at least reducing Nestle’s requested permit (from 5 years to 2 years) and requiring the company to do extensive monitoring on the impact of their water takings. In 2013, the two groups, with legal representation from Ecojustice, successfully fought against an Ontario Ministry of Environment decision to remove conditions that made it mandatory for Nestle to reduce its water takings in Hillsburgh during droughts.