Guelphites Join Province-Wide Protest of Planning Changes

Doug Ford’s promise to not touch the Greenbelt was turned into a hip-hop beat, and it led a couple of hundred people milling about in the Boathouse parking lot over the covered bridge York Road Park. And they kept coming. Guelph joined the province-wide series of protests happening around Ontario this weekend, another loud choir of voices who are against recent changes the Ontario government’s made to planning rules. Continue reading “Guelphites Join Province-Wide Protest of Planning Changes”

Local Advocates and Politicians Call for Massive Greenbelt Expansion

Since the start of the current term of the Ontario Legislature there’s been a lot of back and forth about the fate of Ontario’s Greenbelt, a tract of protected land that runs through much of the Golden Horseshoe. Sometimes it’s under threat of development, and sometimes the government is talking about expanding it, but now a collective of community groups are pushing for expansion as a matter of urgency. Continue reading “Local Advocates and Politicians Call for Massive Greenbelt Expansion”

Local Groups Demand More Climate Action, Less Climate Talk

A lot of people hope that substantive action on climate change will be a major issue in the current Federal Election, but they also know that it will take a lot of hard work and noise to make it the prevalent issue they want it to be. Although not as big as past climate strikes in Guelph, the one held on Thursday drew more than 50 people to St. George’s Square to raise their voices about the desperate need to fight climate change. Continue reading “Local Groups Demand More Climate Action, Less Climate Talk”

Climate Strike Planned Downtown This Thursday

A proud Guelph tradition returns this Thursday when several local groups will host a climate strike at noon in St. George’s Square. In the wake of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recent, and damning, report about the out-of-control warming of the planet, the consortium has some very important demands with local and national reach. Continue reading “Climate Strike Planned Downtown This Thursday”

GUELPH POLITICAST #230 – Messaging on a Bottle

It’s hard to imagine a more personal environmental issue for many in Guelph than water. We’re a community that gets our drinking water from ground sources, and that means we have to be even more guarded about potential threats to those sources, which has long included private water taking operations. Some big changes are coming in that sector as you might have heard, and we’re going to get perspective from an activist and a politician. Continue reading “GUELPH POLITICAST #230 – Messaging on a Bottle”

Nestlé Waters Bugs Out of Canada, as Ontario Looks to Change the Rules

It was the news that water protectors and environmentalists have long waited to hear, the announcement that Nestlé is getting out of the bottled water business, or at least the “Pure Life” brand of bottled water that is taken from so many wells and aquifers in our area. The news comes on the heels of the Government of Ontario’s announcement that they’re seeking input on enhancing water quality programs that will affect the bottling industry. Continue reading “Nestlé Waters Bugs Out of Canada, as Ontario Looks to Change the Rules”

Schreiner Announces Private Members Bill, Feels Good About the Odds

Today at Queen’s Park, Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner unveiled his private member’s bill, the Paris Galt Moraine Conservation Act. The bill hits the local sweet spot of ground water protection, but Schreiner hopes to sell it to Ontario’s government since he’s “taken a good piece of Conservative legislation, and I’m applying it to the moraine in the region I represent.” Continue reading “Schreiner Announces Private Members Bill, Feels Good About the Odds”

GUELPH POLITICAST #157 – The “New” Climate Change Fight

We basically have 12 years to save the world. This according to the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose message hasn’t changed after all these years: the Earth’s climate is changing, and human activity is the cause. Is that why protest has been so hot this cold January? Continue reading “GUELPH POLITICAST #157 – The “New” Climate Change Fight”

VIDEOS: Hundreds Support Gordon Motion, Outside and In City Hall

It was standing room only at city council last night as council debated a motion by Ward 2 Councillor James Gordon asking his fellow councillors on taking a stand against Nestle and their continued water taking at their Aberfoyle bottling plant. Now city council is often compared to a carnival, but there was no denying the carnival atmosphere prior to the meeting as hundreds of people gathered in front of City Hall to sing, speak and make noise, all to push council to support Gordon and his motion. Continue reading “VIDEOS: Hundreds Support Gordon Motion, Outside and In City Hall”

GUELPH POLITICAST #45 – Wellington Water Watchers

It was a month ago today, that the City of Guelph took the water use level down to Level 2 Red. Indeed emphasis of water use during the Summer of 2016 is “less is more,” as an unusually dry winter has lead into an unusually dry spring and summer. Given the preciousness of water, and the unusual scarcity of it this year, would it not be advisable to think about just how we spend those resources?

That’s always been the message of Wellington Water Watchers, and in the midst of a long dry summer their issues are coming into even more stark relief. On top of that, local environmentalists are really feeling the pinch because we seem to be surrounded by Nestle planting its flag in various wells around our region, first in Aberfoyle, then in Hillsburgh, and now in Elora and Middlebook. On top of that, the always contentious water-taking contract for Nestle at Aberfoyle expired this past Sunday, but as of today they’re still filling those bottles. So what’s going on?

Given all that, I reached out to Wellington Water Watchers for some potential explanations. Arlene Slocombe and Robert Case are both members of the Watchers, who, while getting some traction in fighting back against Nestle in Hillsburgh, are still trying to get bottled water-fillers out of Aberfoyle after almost a decade. Founded in 2007, the mission of Wellington Water Watchers is being “committed to the protection of local water and to educating the public about threats to the watershed.” If anything, their job has gotten harder in the last nine years, not easier.

So in the midst of a hot, dry summer, and the looming spectre that Nestle may be getting another lucrative 10-year deal to take millions more litres of water from the local aquafer, I got together with the two local water conservation activists to talk about that elixir of life, which is both fragile and plentiful, at least for people in this area, and why it seems like we’re taking it all for granted.

So let’s head down to the river, or rather at a conveniently situated coffee shop nearby, to talk about Water with the Wellington Watchers.

Addendum: Lindsay Davidson of the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change offered me a comment about the status of Nestle’s contract, and how they can still be pulling water from the well when their deal has expired:

Nestlé submitted an application to renew its existing permit for the Aberfoyle well. We are currently reviewing the application and supporting documentation.

Under the Ontario Water Resources Act, if an application for renewal of an existing permit is made at least 90 days before its expiry, the permit remains in force until the ministry makes a decision on the permit renewal application.

The ministry evaluates each proposed water permit application to determine if it meets the principles of the Permit to Take Water program including, protecting the natural functions of the ecosystem, preventing unacceptable interference with other water users, and fair sharing and conservation of water.

This application will be posted on the Environmental Registry for public review. All comments received during the comment period will be considered before a decision is made.

To learn more about water issues in Guelph and area, you can go to the website for Wellington Water Watchers, or interact with them through social media on Facebook and Twitter. You can also go to the website,

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