Protecting Water is a Public Trust

Our neighbours in Guelph are having an important public conversation that will set the tone for future debates on water protection in Ontario.

Citizens were shocked to learn that the province of Ontario has subsidized corporate extraction of our water for years. Former Environmental Commissioner Ellen Schwartzel is frustrated that despite her recommendations, the provincial government continues to allow corporations to extract water for as little as $3.71 per million litres.  This charge recovers only about 1.2 per cent of the government’s total water-quantity management costs.

A water-taking permit in Guelph is up for renewal and many concerned citizens and groups are speaking up. Councillor James Gordon has introduced a motion that highlights concerns with the permit’s renewal. Our communities are growing at a rapid rate, and this decision could impact our shared watershed for decades to come.

I believe strongly that groundwater reserves should not be depleted for corporate profit. Protecting the future health of our communities along the Grand watershed is much more important than the convenience of single use plastic water bottles.

This debate will set a precedent in Ontario. Everyone living in the Grand River watershed should be paying attention.

Catherine Fife, MPP Kitchener-Waterloo

First published in the Waterloo Region Record on September 27, 2016.