LIVE BLOG: Special Committee of the Whole on Water Taking

Water, water everywhere, but who has the right to take it? This is the questions that the committee, and about 37 delegations, will try and answer in this special meeting. You can click here for the amended agenda from City Hall, and you can click here to read Politico’s preview of today’s meeting. For the complete blow-by-blow of today’s committee meeting, you can follow me on Twitter, or follow along below via Storify.

Click here for the live blog from the main committee-of-the-whole meeting.

Special Committee-of-the-Whole – November 7, 2016

Live blog from the meeting on water taking starta at 7 pm

  1. Gordon and Allt both promise a long night ahead… the meeting starts in 40 minutes.
  2. Just heard from one disgruntled person that #Nestle “stacked” the gallery with their people. Not pleased.
  3. Regrets from Hofland, and MacKinnon. Salisbury will arriving shortly.
  4. Bell will chair this meeting as it falls under Infrastructure, Development and Enterprise. Bell turns it back over to Guthrie though
  5. Guthrie asks people to make room for people who are delegating tonight.
  6. Okay, we’re about to kick off with staff reports. “It will be good, I promise you,” says Guthrie.
  7. Barbara Swartzentruber, Executive Director, Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and Open Government begins…
  8. Since this last came before council, the Province of Ontario announced a moratorium of PTTW and other new restrictions.
  9. Final council resolution will come forward on November 28. Ppl will also have a chance to delegate at that meeting.
  10. Staff will work with MOECC to facilitate an in-person, open public consultation, consider comments made during November 7 delegations, and..
  11. …in preparation for a Council resolution for on November 28 provide the ministry with a videotaped recording of the November 7 delegations
  12. Allt asks for clarity on the different processes. Can comment on changes to PTTW now, not the specific Aberfoyle PTTW
  13. Peter Busatto, GM of Environmental Services intros the technical report on PTTW to be delivered by Dave Belanger, Water Supply Program Mngr
  14. The report is intended to provide preliminary comments and background information.
  15. Nestle has a long list of conditions, more significant than some industrial sources says Belanger.
  16. Once the Environmental Review is posted, staff will have more detailed commentary.
  17. Presently, Nestle draws 3.6 million L / day, 365 days per year. They’re looking for a 10 year renewal.
  18. the water taking is stable, says MOECC. The monitoring methods used by Nestle the same as the City’s says Belanger.
  19. #Guelph comments on water taking consistent over last decade, preference that water taking be reserved for municipal use.
  20. Having said that #Guelph‘s not opposed to the renewal b/c it doesn’t interfere with *current* water taking.
  21. Guelph is fortunate b/c we have very good information on what our water supply looks like says Belanger.
  22. “It’s not just how much you need now, it’s how much you need in the future,” says Belanger.
  23. The Water Strategy Master Plan is still draft, hopes to be complete soon.
  24. Significant stress on the model, may not be able to provide municipal water supply if hit w/ 10 yr drought in 2038.
  25. Water services looks at years, and we have a “deep, confined bedrock aquifer” able to sustain dry months, but impact felt after 2-3 years.
  26. First plank of Water Supply Master Plan is conservation.
  27. In summary: Nestle application delayed, but we need better discussion about water resource management anyway.
  28. Gibson asks about identifying new water resources. The well at the south end is far down on the list of priorities. A # of projects b4 that
  29. City also looking at bringing old wells back on line in order to create more available water.
  30. Billings asks if the model for 2038 incl all the water strategy numbers. The answer: yes.
  31. Allt gets clarity that its up to the province to change policy on water taking even though Guelph is “ground zero” for the debate.
  32. If you read btwn the lines, the MOE is staring to ask how do we set priorities in water taking, says Belanger.
  33. Gordon mention’s Nestle’s slogan “Water you can trust,” is there something wrong with our water?
  34. There’s “rigorous legislation” on the standards that city’s have to meet in order to ensure quality water, says Peter Busatto
  35. “Last on my list is Cllr Piper,” says Guthrie. Stand by delegates, you’re up next…
  36. Three delegations before voting for this recommendation takes place. First Martin Keller of @grandriverca
  37. Guthrie warns that he’ll be sticking to the 5 minute time frame per delegate.
  38. Source protection: making sure we keep present and future water resources safe from contamination.
  39. Keller says that water resources need to be managed more effectively. Taking lead role in water protection programs.
  40. “As some people in Guelph know, Nestle is the embodiment of evil.” Here we go…
  41. Sheridan says we’re lucky in Guelph living over a “drinking water generating machine.”
  42. Sheridan making the argument that water bottling is a small percentage of water use.
  43. Two biggest risks is volume and quality, says Sheridan.
  44. Nestle is not a threat in the short term, Sheridan says, wants council to look broadly at the matter.
  45. Motion to receive the technical report passes 11-0
  46. Guthrie asks the crowd to exercise decorum and respect one and others.
  47. “Water is good in nature but not a plastic bottle,” one little girl says.
    “We need unbolted water to live,” says Izzy.
  48. DelVecchio says that these kids understand good water stewardship: shutting off tap when brushing teeth, their own water bottles, etc.
  49. “I don’t have any cute drawings to share with you,” says Schreiner.
  50. “I hope this council seeks a unanimous vote,” says Schreiner. “I think that’s important.”
  51. Sterner says he believes in the precautionary principle, Guelph residents quite knowledgable about water.
  52. Schreiner says he’s collected over 2000 postcards of support on protecting water.
  53. Schreiner says he things industrial and commercial water takers need to pay their fair share too.
  54. Gibson asks if evidence and science should govern the process, and Schreiner agrees, added that principle should play a role.
  55. Allt gets clarity from Schreiner about what the province should do, whether they should just raise rates.
  56. Schreiner doesn’t want to turn water into a “cash cow” but we only bring in 1-2% of the cost as well.
  57. Taxpayers also on the hook for waste disposal. Province needs to also address packaging says Schreiner.
  58. Schreiner says he believes priority access should for communities.
  59. Gordon: So far the science looks like we are sustainable, but community feels like its a principled matter.
  60. Gordon: Who wins: science or principle?
    Schreiner: Why not both? Good science that’s well funded should lead.
  61. Maureen Blackwood and David Cadogan-Blackwood up next.
  62. It’s two more young kids. “We need to be responsible about how much water we take and not be so greedy,: says David
  63. “I also think we should have another skate park,” David adds.
  64. Maureen says she’d like to see #Guelph follow San Francisco’s lead and ban bottled water.
  65. “It’s unrcontionable that First Nations community don’t have water while companies can bottle it and re-sell it,” Blackwood says
  66. Would also like City to look at ays to reduce water bottle consumption.
  67. Ward, founder and director of Plastic Free Guelph, recognizes the local and surround First Nations communities.
  68. 49 Billion single use plastic bottles per year in global consumption says Ward.
  69. Plastic photdegrades and ends up in the food chain, says Ward. “Bon appetite, I think not,” he says.
  70. Guelph tap water brought to your tap for a fraciton of a penny per litre, Ward observes.
  71. Ward reminds Mayor and council that this time last year they endorsed Guelph becoming a Blue-dot community.
  72. Becoming a plastic society, “We’re finding it easier to pack it up and ship it,” Ward said.
  73. “Not only are we having unsustainable water taking in #Guelph, we’re endangering ecosystems because we find plastic bottles more convenient”
  74. nagy congratulates city for water preservation efforts, including conserving by stopping leaks.
  75. #Guelph is a hotspot for water taking, says Nagy. We want to be a part of an innovative, modern economy.
  76. Nagy calls this a “conservative, cautious” motion.
  77. “Low hanging carbon fruit,” Nagy on bottled water.
  78. Allt asks about WWW’s concern about water taking and population growth.
  79. Places to Grow will eventually come into conflict with Nestle’s water taking, says Nagy.
  80. If there’s any water at the end of the water budget process then we can talk about other uses. Need to stop paving over water recharge too.
  81. All places should have anatural growth ceiling, says Nagy. Milton, with pipeline to L. Ontario, has been a disaster, Nagy says.
  82. 100s of millions going to a pipeline will have big impact on taxes, Nagy says.
  83. Gibson says he’s waiting to hear from WWW on Guelph’s frivolous uses of water. Private pools, splash pads, etc.
  84. “That’s a very broad, leading and misledangi question,” says Nagy. WWW has been against using clean water for lawns.
  85. Gibson asks if Nagy is in favour of shutting down water bottlers in the city. Nagy says he’s not aware of any.
  86. Case asks if council is willing to let Guelph cede its reputation as an environmental leader on this issues.
  87. Last delegate from @wwaterwatchers Tamara Kohl. She’s representing the youth of the community.
  88. Water bottling industry has a cumulative effect on you, says Kohl.
  89. Guthrie says there’s about 24 more delegates (2 more hours). But for now, it’s break time.
  90. Back from break. Maddy Ford, who has school in the morning, is up next.
  91. Maddy can’t vote yet, but she’s talking at city council.
  92. Maddy Ford says that water, like air, should be free.
  93. Maddy says that while people were being fined for watering their lawns this summer, Nestle was still pulling water.
  94. “If we don’t take action now, we’ll be back here asking why we didn’t stop it before it gets worse?” – Maddy Ford.
  95. No Qs for Maddy. Next us is Debbie Moore and Andreanne Simard of Nestle.
  96. Debbie Moore is president of Nestle Waters Canada, proud #Guelph resident.
  97. “We unconditionally share your passion for water and its sustainability,” says Moore.
  98. Water is a health soft drink alternative, Moore says, also a big asset in times of crisis.
  99. “We all agree water sustainability is a priority.” -Moore
  100. “Community comes first, that’s why we’re uncompromising in our principles,” says Moore.
  101. Nestle donated over 100K bottles of water this year to local charities, Guelph General Hospital.
  102. “This is the type of company I’m extremely proud to lead,” says Moore.
  103. Nestle full supports moratorium, Moore says, and have implemented many new standards later adapted by government.
  104. Now Dr Andreanne Simard, head of natural resources for Nestle.
  105. Nestle part of GRCA’s low water response team.
  106. Simard asks council to look at the big picture and “keep things in perspective.”
  107. No incident where Nestle operations has affected a private well owner says Simard.
  108. Simard says they’ve been slowly increasing their takings, but they still take less than they’re allowed to. Only withdraw 840mil L/year.
  109. “Community always comes first,” says Simard.
  110. Moore says Nestle fully supports the moratorium. “We see this as a welcome addition […] beyond just the issue of bottled water.”
  111. Nestle bottles are 100% recyclable plastic says Moore, in fact they’ve reduced the amount of plastic in the bottles.
  112. Bell: Where does water end up?
    Moore: 100% stays in Eastern Canada, mostly ON and PQ
  113. Bell: Is the reason Nestle is in Guelph is because our water really tastes good?
  114. Moore: This is not frivolous use, this is healthy hydration.
  115. Moore: “There’s a role of tap water, and there’s a role for bottled water.”
  116. Moore: “There’s a role of tap water, and there’s a role for bottled water.”
  117. Is Nestle going to sell Middlebrook well to the city and recoup cost, asks Salisbury.
  118. Moore says they confered with Centre-Wellington and they said they had no interest in Middlebrook well.
  119. “We were very, very surprised,” says Moore when they found out that Centre-Wellington had bid.
  120. Moore says Nestle was very transparent about what they wanted to do with the well.
  121. Jennifer Nikolasevic, Nestle employee, to talk about how it feels for them during recent controversy.
  122. It’s become difficult for Nestle workers and families to not feel excluded or bullied says Nikolasevic.
  123. “Wow people around here really hate you,” “You’re a water sealer” things that Nikolasevic has heard.
  124. “I apologize for someone who hates you,” says Allt, appreciates that Nestle employees are just paying the bills.
  125. Next up, Jim Goetz, President of the Cdn Beverage Association. “The non-alcoholic beverage refreshment centre”
  126. Residents left with the impression that water-taking for bottled water responsible for scarcity.
  127. 91% of ppl drink tap water at home and bottle on the go, says Goetz.
  128. Recovery rate for plastic containers was over 70% in 2011, says Goetz, one of the highest rates in the world.
  129. Most of the Nestle employees seem to be shuffling out now.
  130. Whiteley: City needs to make it clear that the province needs to speak out about water being a public trust.
  131. Elizabeth Griswold, of the Canadian Bottle Water Assoc. is speaking now.
  132. “All of our members are subject to stringent measures governing their water taking,” says Griswold.
  133. “We never hear in the media about the overall water taking in all industries,” says Griswold.
  134. CBWA appreciates the dialogue that’s come about, even if they don’t appreciate being singled out.
  135. “I’ve got a sinking feeling we might be wasting time talking about this […] I’m on the look out for 4 horseman.” St. Denis
  136. “Can’t deny sales #’s” says St. Denis, so why not socialize it and not introduced new levies.
  137. St Denis: “I’m by no means a hater of Nestle […] much of this body was built on Nestle products.”
  138. No Qs for St Denis, he’s got to go home “to see what the Trump is doing.”
  139. Sean Roberts is up next. He’s got data from the province and the feds.
  140. Roberts from Enviro Canada. 40% of eligible water is withdrawn, which puts severe water stress on the system,
  141. We have the data dating back to 2005, says Roberts, why are we closing our eyes to it, he asks.
  142. Roberts calls on all levels of gov’t, up to and including @JustinTrudeau, to help protect water. Communities can’t fight big corps alone
  143. “Canada’s watching, let’s acknowledge the mistakes of the past,” says Roberts.
  144. Next up John Farley. Says not all communities in Ontario has such a staff with expertise as Guelph, and whose looking out for them?
  145. Farley: “A permit to take water is a privilege, and not a right.”
  146. “Could all this good work be *trumped* by CETA and NAFTA,” Farley asks.
  147. Next up is Mike. Also concerned about the Dolime quarry.
  148. Mandatory restictions on other large water taking permits should also be looked at, says Mike.
  149. The parts of Guelph we seem to love and gather around are near water, Rathwell says.
  150. “Whose water is it, and who gets to decide?” Rathwell asks.
  151. “The water hits Guelph first,” Rathwell quotes Liz Sandals to demonstrate she’s out of touch on the issue.
  152. Before going to the next speaker, Guthrie asks for a motion to go past 11, and gets it.
  153. Next up is John Cherry. Hydrogeologist and professor at @uofg.
  154. “This community sits on a very productive bedrock aquifer.” says Cherry, but its not without its vulnerabilities.
  155. Gordon asks Dr Cherry if his research is partially funded by Nestle? Future research, says Cherry, Ont. Research Council previous.
  156. #Guelph has a hole in ground water research, needs more funds from feds and other sources, not just Nestle.
  157. Cowan hasn’t heard anything about money in these conversation, just an old guy that lives in Guelph.
  158. Cowan: It takes the average Guelph resident 5 year to consume 1 million litres of water. That’s $45; Nestle pays $3.
  159. Cowan: “I’ll be lucky if i live long enough to use a million litres of water.”
  160. Ourssoren has operated a company that oversees industrial use of water.
  161. Oussoren says there are a lot of big issues with water taking, 4 gold courses in Guelph take 5 million L /day
  162. If City objects to Nestle, then it must also object to other large water taking projects. Need to work with Nestle not confront them.
  163. That’s a break. Still about 10 ppl on the speakers list, and then the motion has to be debated…
  164. Bragg points out that despite the fact that Guelph has grown, we’ve kept our water use levels low overall.
  165. We’re definitely going after midnight, the question is will be going after 1 am?
  166. Bragg says Guelph will not stop growing in 2031, and Nestle doesn’t even cover the cost of its water taking now.
  167. Rob Frizzle is up next, he’s with the Canadian Bottled Water Association.
  168. Frizzle says he’s a believer in science-based decisions, but he doesn’t understand how targeting such a minor water user is going to help
  169. The issue here is about public trust in the science, and Ontario is a leader in protecting water despite what we’ve heard here.
  170. Gibson’s asks how the precautionary principle is embedded in Frizzle’s organization.
  171. MOECC will not issue long-term permits anymore, says Fizzle, they look at the results and methods, and make decision.
  172. Protection is in the science, and in the durations.
  173. Kormendy feels a responsibility to protect water, as it’s sacred. Her daughter was one of the kids that was up earlier.
  174. “What is going to happen to this Earth if we don’t step up and take care of it,” asks Kormendy
  175. Next up is Sheri Longboat of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.
  176. Longboat is a Mohawk, and a U of G enviro-sci professor.
  177. She doesn’t want her comments to count as consultation with Six Nations.
  178. Longboat reminds that for aborigianl people, water is life, water is us, what we do to the water, we do to ourselves.
  179. No questions for Longboat, Lin Grist of @CouncilofCDNs Guelph chapter up now.
  180. Grist is here for everybdoy’s grandchildren, that can’t speak for themselves yet.
  181. 40K have supported CoC boycott of bottle water products after Nestle bought Middlebrook.
  182. Many members of CoC have called on the MOECC on the moretorium and proposed changes to PTTW process.
  183. “Water is a human right,” Grist wraps up on. No Qs.
  184. Guthrie asks for a motion to go after 11:59, 2/3s needed. Vote is unanimous.
  185. Maria Shallard is up next, she identifies as Indigious and European.
  186. Current polices in the Water Protection Act do not take into account Indigionous rights. Following up on what Longboat was just saying.
  187. Shallard asking that future decisions not consider water a commodity, not even a resource…
  188. Sel Mullins, a massage therapist, says water is foundational for wellness.
  189. Mullins asks council to keep pushing the message of the positive effects of water and its importance.
  190. Guthrie asks if given the fact they’ve passed the other two recommendations tonight, is the third motion necessary…
  191. Guthrie thinks there’s redundancy here. Council’s going to submit everything that’s happened tonight already.
  192. Downer asks staff with all the discussion about the plastic bottles and their effects can be included in comments about PTTW.
  193. DCAO Stewart says plastic bottles are a “different branch” but still a concern on the solid waste side. Come come back with more comment.
  194. Salisbury says they’ve captured the intent, but it’s still worth referring the motion to Nov 28.
  195. Guthrie thanks staff and the public for participation. 3 special meets in the last 3 years to make sure ppl are heard. Hope that isn’t lost.
  196. Next council meeting is Wednesday about #GuelphBudget. Bradley Breedan will be live tweeting here.


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