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City council in Powell River considers bylaw amendment to regulate bottling of drinking water

Initiative to go to public hearing
Bottled water Powell River
Getty image.

City of Powell River Council has given first two readings to a draft bylaw amendment to regulate bottling of drinking water.

The amendment will now move to public hearing.

At the November 19 city council meeting, councillor Rob Southcott said the bylaw was suggesting an amendment to the zoning bylaw, which was written to limit the bottling of water for use in beverages, to water taken from the city’s water system.

Councillor Cindy Elliott said she understands the bylaw amendment prevents any water bottling for commercial purposes inside the boundaries of the city, except for companies such as Aaron Vending that sell larger bottled water containers to members of this community.

Chief administrative officer Russell Brewer said the bylaw amendment would prohibit the bottling of groundwater and surface water, other than municipal water. He said right now there is no prohibition on the bottling of any water from any source.

“What this would do is prohibit the bottling of groundwater or surface water but still allow municipal water,” said Brewer.

Elliott said that means a company could not come and bottle city water and sell it as bottled water.

Mayor Dave Formosa said a bottler could have an agreement with the city and if the city agreed to let them do it, they could proceed.

“What happens is for the company we’ve been working with that wants to come here and open up a bottling facility for water and beverages of all kinds, we are prohibiting them from coming into the city,” said Formosa.

The mayor had previously spoken to an out-of-town company that was interested in bottling water and beverages in Powell River.

Councillor CaroleAnn Leishman said an agreement can be reached for a company to bottle municipal tap water, such as Aaron Services and local grocery stores, to be resold in the community.

“You can’t singly bottle tap water and sell it out of the town,” said Leishman.

She said the water bottling initiative came from the Merville Water Guardians, who requested a resolution to the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities last year, trying to prevent groundwater and surface water from being bottled.

“This is just a blanket, no single use bottling of water, which is not a good idea anyway,” said Leishman.

She said the city received about 400 pieces of correspondence to support the direction of this bylaw.

Formosa said he didn’t totally agree with everything that was said. He said the Union of British Columbia Municipalities turned down this request. He said he totally agreed with not bottling groundwater.

He said as far as water that could potentially come into town via tankers for water bottling, the source can be identified because a water licence is required.

Council voted to approve the first two readings and send the matter to public hearing, with Formosa opposed.