Comox Valley man working AVICC to ban groundwater extraction
Vancouver Island Groundwater Rights Update Water rights advocate Bruce Gibbons is on a mission to end licensing of groundwater extraction for bottled water on Vancouver Island. And if that goes well, for all of BC.
Gibbons is burning shoe leather and working the phone to encourage all 53 districts and municipalities in the Association of Vancouver Island Coastal Communities (AVICC) to support an upcoming motion requesting the provincial government stop issuing well licenses to bottle water. If the motion passes, it heads to a province-wide vote at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities.
Gibbons said preventing groundwater bottling is a “no brainer” for many coastal communities, and several town councils have voted to support the AVICC motion on-the-spot after listening to his presentation.
The other half of Gibbons’ two-pronged approach is to ensure that there is a back-up if the AVICC motion fails. Gibbons discovered most towns need to amend the language of their bylaws if they want to prevent commercial bottling of groundwater, and he’s encouraging them
to do so
“When people wrote bylaws for their communities, they weren’t thinking of bottling water, so in most cases it’s not an actual conscious decision to allow it or not allow it,” he said. “[Communities] look at their bylaws and say ‘well it looks like if it came down to a decision, this
particular bylaw would allow it because it doesn’t expressly prohibit it,’ so they’re finding themselves in a position where they need to revise their bylaws to expressly prohibit bottled water.”
According to Gibbons, a dozen AVICC communities now have bylaws on the books that specifically forbid bottling groundwater. Twenty five AVICC communities have bylaws that doallow groundwater bottling (several of these are working to amend their bylaws). The bylaw
status of the remaining communities is unknown.
AVICC communities have been largely supportive of Gibbons urging a review of old bylaws. The exception has been Langford, where Gibbons said planning officials were uncooperative and appeared confused by his request.
“It was just a really weird experience with them. It wasn’t so much that they didn’t believe in what I was doing. They just didn’t get it.”
He’s shaken off the minor failure and said regardless which way the AVICC vote goes, water rights in BC are advancing, and his campaign is worthwhile.
“When you get involved in something like this, you realize how many people there are who really devote a lot of time and energy to protecting our environment and the world we live in. It takes a lot of time and energy, but it’s a very positive thing.”
Gavin McRae is a reporter and assistant editor for the Watershed Sentinel, which is a publishing partner of Decafnation
“Brooklyn Creek is a small creekshed whose hydrology and ecological services have been altered and degraded by decades of land use impacts,” — Tim Pringle in the preface to Assessing the Worth of Ecological Services Using the Ecological Accounting Process for Watershed Assessment: Brooklyn Creek Demonstration Application in the Comox Valley.
WHAT IS THE ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNTING PROCESS (EAP)?
Ecological Accounting Process — “The EAP approach begins by first recognizing the importance of a stream in a natural state and then asking: how can we maintain those ecological values while allowing the stream to be used for drainage,” says Jim Dumont, Engineering Applications Authority with the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC.
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER
After more than a year of divisive conversations about the future of economic development, the Comox Valley Regional District plans to terminate its contract with the Comox Valley Economic Development Society
Decafnation’s Local Government Performance Review was designed to shed light on why people felt a certain way rather than predict some outcome through statistics.
Comox Valley Nature present free webinar lecture on the importance of herring to the Salish Sea ecosystem and the effects of hard shoring our coastline
Comox Valley regional directors in Areas A and B should address the affordable housing crisis as their top priority over the next year and a half, according to a local government performance review conducted by Decafnation. In Area C, the top issue is protecting the Regional Growth Strategy
Results for Electoral Area a from Decafnation’s Local Government Performance Review
Respondents to Decafnation’s Local Government Performance Review comment on District 71 school trustees
Electoral Area A respondents to Decafnation’s Local Government Performance Review made comments about the Islands Trust representatives
Electoral Area C respondents’ comments in Decafnation’s Local Government Performance Review
Comments from Electoral Area B respondents on Decafnation’s Local Government Performance Review
Comox residents responding to Decafnation’s Local Government Performance Review make comments on the Town Council and individual councillors