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Local residents concerned about possible Nestle back door deal on Elora well

Two Boycott Nestle supporters at the Centre Wellington chapter information table at the Elora Farmers Market, Nov. 26, 2016.

Centre Wellington residents are raising concerns about a possible partnership between Nestle and the Township of Centre Wellington.

CBC reports, “SaveOurWater.ca and Wellington Water Watchers claim the company is attempting ‘a back door deal’ with the township ‘that would in effect privatize the community’s water supply’.”

Libby Carlaw of SaveOurWater.ca says, “An arrangement with the township and Nestlé about the Middlebrook well could allow Nestlé to be exempt from the new regulations [on new and expanded bottled water operations].”

Carlaw, who is also a member of the Council of Canadians Centre Wellington chapter, adds, “This attempt to circumvent the moratorium disrespects the intent of the provincial government to revamp regulations for this industry. The Township of Centre Wellington needs time over the next two years to bring the Township’s Official Plan in line with new water realities like the Scoped Tier 3 Water Study, doubling of the local population and climate change.”

The article highlights, “The Council of Canadians has called on the province to expropriate the well from Nestlé and give it to the local municipality. Mayor Linton has told CBC News he does not agree with that idea, but Mark Calzavara of the Council of Canadians said Linton and the township have to play nice with Nestlé if they have any hope of one day obtaining the well for residents. ‘They’re between a rock and a hard place really, because they do want that well and they’re looking, I think, to … make some sort of a deal with Nestlé going forward’, Calzavara said in October.”

While the article notes that “Nestlé and Centre Wellington Mayor Kelly Linton both denied to CBC News they are working on any kind of deal behind closed doors”, a public meeting has been scheduled for January 11 in Elora for those concerned about this issue.

On December 2, 2016, the Canadian Press reported, “Ontario will formally impose a two-year moratorium on new or expanded bottled water companies as of Jan. 1, 2017 after thousands of people expressed support for the ban.”

The Council of Canadians launched an online action alert at the start of the 45-day comment period and generated 9,219 of the 20,000 comments submitted to the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry on this issue.

Following that comment period on new or increased bottled water operations, the Ontario government launched another public comment period on renewing permits for existing bottled water operations. Our action alert on this states, “What the government has proposed is just more of the same. Instead of saying ‘no’ to wasteful and unnecessary use of water, the government will make decisions based on studies provided by the corporations seeking permits.”

We believe the Ontario government should:

  • require Nestlé to sell the Middlebrook well to the Township of Centre Wellington who need it for their drinking water

  • implement a permanent moratorium on new permits for single-use bottled water facilities

  • phase out current permits for such facilities

  • prioritize community use over corporate interests for water resources in Ontario

  • seek the free, prior and informed consent of affected Indigenous peoples.

If you agree, please send a message to the Ontario government through this online action alert before their deadline of January 31.