The Provincial Government’s promised review on large-volume water taking permits, including those sought by water bottling companies, remains uncertain and calls out for clarity.
That’s the conclusion that Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott drew after raising the issue with the Premier during Question Period at Queen’s Park on October 3rd.
“Will the Premier inform the House how this will unfold? Will there be public consultations? Will interested groups and individuals be invited to make comments? Will municipalities be included? Will they release the recommendations before Cabinet makes final decisions? How will the Minister (of the Environment) be able to do all this by December? And does the Government plan to use this issue as a cash grab to pay for its out of control spending?” Mr. Arnott demanded.
The Premier replied with vague assurance there would be some public consultations associated with the review, but her answer lacked details.
Mr. Arnott’s follow-up question to the Premier urged the Minister of the Environment to meet with Centre Wellington Township Mayor Kelly Linton to discuss the Township’s concerns. Mr. Arnott also reiterated his view that groundwater needs to be protected, decisions on permits should be science-based, and any increases in provincial taxes or fees on water bottling plants should be substantially shared with the municipalities in which they are located.
The Premier referred this question to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, who seemed to be taken by surprise. His answer did not directly address the points Mr. Arnott had raised.
”The Government absolutely must clarify these issues,” the veteran MPP concluded. “Many people in our Riding continue to fear that the Minister of Environment isn’t doing enough to protect our groundwater, especially over the longer term.”