Salmon Arm council is letting the provincial government know it is firmly against groundwater extraction for commercial bulk or bottled water sales. (File photos)

Salmon Arm council is letting the provincial government know it is firmly against groundwater extraction for commercial bulk or bottled water sales. (File photos)

Council stands firm against using groundwater in Salmon Arm for bulk or bottled sale

Mayor and councillors to tell premier, provincial ministries to consider local government wishes

Being left without a voice on whether groundwater can be extracted in Salmon Arm for a water bottling facility has propelled city council to act.

Groundwater licence applications go to the provincial Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) ministry and, typically, municipal governments are not consulted. In this case, council was not asked for input about the application on a property at 3030 40th St. SE, although the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) was, because it is the owner of the nearby landfill which falls within the consultation perimeter. The CSRD voiced opposition to the plan.

Coun. Tim Lavery crafted a motion that was supported unanimously by council. The motion expressed fundamental opposition to groundwater extraction for commercial bulk and bottled water sales, based on concerns related to having safe clean water for local consumption in the future. The motion also called for a formal role for local government in the process.

(Lavery’s motion is on page 239 of council’s May 25 agenda. Commercial ‘bulk’ water sales were added to bottled.)

Before presenting the motion, Lavery referred to a motion from the city’s environmental advisory committee and a letter from the Salmon Arm Economic Development Society, both of which expressed concerns about environmental sustainability. He noted that the Neskonlith band had also voiced concerns about the application to Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo, but Kyllo hadn’t received a substantive answer from the province.

In late 2019 the CSRD made a unanimous resolution opposing a groundwater water bottling application in Area A near Golden. The Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) has made regular motions for local governments to be a part of water extraction proposals, he said.

“It is throughout the province, I think fairly clear, that local governments feel they have a legitimate vested interest in that. It’s gone to UBCM and so far has been met with a closed door, cold shoulder response (from the provincial government).”

Lavery said he firmly believes groundwater is a public resource and local governments have a legitimate interest in its use and consumption, particularly given factors such as climate change and equitable access for non-commercial users.

He also said he’s personally against the proliferation of unnecessary products for commercial gain, especially in light of existing excellent public water utilities.

Lavery, other members of council and the letter from the economic development society said their opposition to the water extraction application is not a matter of questioning the applicant.

“I can comfortably say I would be opposing this proposal based on the rationale given, even if it came from Mother Theresa,” Lavery emphasized.

Read more: Concerns raised over water licence application in Salmon Arm for bottling water

Read more: Letter: Proposed Salmon Arm bottle water operation prompts opposition

Read more: More information on Salmon Arm water licence application surfaces

Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond said she’s heard from community members, including the proponent.

“It’s been a very interesting conversation, a very confusing process, and I humbly suggest this is a case of regulations not keeping up with the social expectations.”

She said she’d like to see council follow up on whether regulations are keeping up-to-date with this current culture of climate emergency – “and it’s my sense they’re not.”

Coun. Debbie Cannon said she too has heard from many residents as well as one of the two proponents. She doesn’t want to see the facility in Salmon Arm and she thinks it’s possible that a water-bottling company would end up being sold to a large company.

Although Coun. Kevin Flynn said he’d support the motion, he suggested more emphasis on the need for input from local government.

He also questioned the order of the elements in the motion, because a request for a presentation from those involved came after sending a letter with council’s motion to the premier, the ministers of FLNRORD and the environment ministry, and the regional office processing the application.

“If they’re just going to do it without our input or consideration or understanding, why do we need a presentation?”

Coun. Sylvia Lindgren said Canadians have been standing up against water bottling and privatizing water for at least two decades.

“I think for us just to quietly sit by and allow this one to go ahead is a big step backwards.”

Coun. Chad Eliason said although he doesn’t believe the motion will carry much weight, he will support it generally because communities want more input on what is happening within their borders and in their watersheds.

Mayor Alan Harrison said the issue is not about one application but rather whether the community wants groundwater accessed for commercial use. He said he agrees with council that it does not – and he has faith the provincial government will come into alignment with communities.


martha.wickett@saobserver.net
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Shuswap Immigrant Services Society plans to hold a vigil on Friday, June 25 at 8 p.m. to honour the victims of what officials are calling a terrorist attack on five Muslims in London, Ont. (File photo)
Salmon Arm council holds minute of silence to honour victims of Ontario attack

Shuswap Immigrant Services Society plans vigil for Muslim family on June 25, 8 p.m. at McGuire Lake

(Pixabay photo)
Morning Start: Goosebumps helped scare off predators

Your morning start for Tuesday, June 15, 2021

A first-dose mobile vaccination clinic is being held on Tuesday, June 15 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Salmon Arm fairgrounds, west entrance across from spray park. (Interior Health image)
Location for Salmon Arm’s June 15 COVID-19 mobile vaccine clinic changes slightly

Immunization clinic still at fairgrounds but people attending asked to use different entrance

Felix Haase and Jayme Saretzky staff a pop-up booth to support the Salmon Arm Pride Project on the patio of the newly reopened Wild Craft Mercantile at 121 Shuswap St. on Saturday, June 12, 2021. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Wild Craft Mercantile in Salmon Arm holds grand reopening, celebrates Pride month

Store moves from Lakeshore to Shuswap, demonstrates support for Pride project

A City of Salmon Arm vacuum truck cleans out the city storm drain on Hudson Avenue in Salmon Arm Monday morning, June 14 after a crane truck blew a hydraulic line, spewing oil onto the road. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Fire trucks called to small oil spill in Salmon Arm

Traffic delayed on Hudson Avenue Monday morning after crane truck blows hydraulic line

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Children’s shoes and flowers are shown after being placed outside the Ontario legislature in Toronto on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ontario commits $10 million to investigate burial sites at residential schools

Truth and Reconciliation Commission identified 12 locations of unmarked burial sites in Ontario

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

In this Saturday, May 29, 2021, file photo, people crowd the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, Calif. California, the first state in America to put in place a coronavirus lockdown, is now turning a page on the pandemic. Most of California’s coronavirus restrictions will disappear Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
With COVID tamed, it’s a ‘grand reopening’ in California

No more state rules on social distancing, no more limits on capacity, no more mandatory masks

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

(Dave Ogilvie photo)
One injured after being pinned by fallen forklift near Peachland

West Kelowna emergency crews responded to reports of a person stuck under a forklift

Penticton Overdose Prevention Society co-founders Desiree Franz, Shane Surowski and Stephanie Lines have created the city’s first unsanctioned public overdose prevention site using an old wine-tour bus. The site began operations in June 2021. (Desiree Franz/Facebook)
Volunteers launch Penticton’s first public supervised injection site

2021 is on pace to be the deadliest year for overdoses in Penticton on record

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Bentley resting on a bench at Kal Park in Vernon not knowing there is a baby rattlesnake curled up below. Bentley jumped down and was bitten by the snake. (Facebook)
Dog bit by baby rattler at popular Vernon park

The rattlesnake was hidden underneath a park bench when it struck

Most Read