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Wakefield residents oppose commodification of their spring

The Low Down newspaper reports that La Peche Mayor Robert Bussiere thinks the Wakefield spring on Valley Drive should be monetized for the municipality’s gain.

Bussiere says, “The price of (bottled) water is more than gas, so the potential revenue could help (us realize) all our dreams.”

His plan is to bottle and sell the water, while still allowing local residents to access the water for free. The revenue from the bottled water sales would go toward community projects or to offset the municipality’s maintenance costs for the spring of $10,000 to $15,000 per year.

He has also stated that most of the water that flows underground is “lost” to the Gatineau River.

The mayor’s plan doesn’t appear to have much support.

Save Our Spring spokesperson Peter Andree says, “Increasingly we are told that we have to privatize and every use has to pay for the little bit of these public resources that we use. Well I believe … that some things should be kept in common, shared in common and celebrated in common as our common resource.”

He has noted, “There are fewer and fewer things that are free and accessible to all. The idea that everything has to get a price tag on it and be privatized and made into a money-making machine is what irks a lot of people.”

Andree has also asked, “Where on earth would (the mayor) put a bottling plant that would be fed by the spring?”

In recent letters to the editor in The Low Down one person says the free water is a good investment because it brings tourists and their dollars to the local economy, another writes that the water should remain free but that people could be asked to make a donation that would go to local charities, but another does say the water could be bottled for sale in local stores.

And an Ottawa Citizen on-line reader opinion poll shows that 62.62 per cent of respondents believe Wakefield should not bottle some of its spring water and sell it for profit.

As of February 4, the matter has not yet gone before the municipal council.

There Ward 6 councillor Claude Giroux is concerned about charging money for the water, but could support a donation box or even a yearly pass for the water.

Unfortunately there are also now concerns about nitrate levels in the water due to the blasting that took place for the expansion of Highway 105. The community is now awaiting the completion of a study on that matter.