By Keith Leslie, The Canadian Press
TORONTO – A senior Ontario cabinet minister is coming to Nestle’s defence, suggesting public opposition to the renewal of the multinational company’s water taking permit in a small community is based on “misinformation.”
There has been vocal opposition and protests against renewing Nestle’s permit in Aberfoyle, Ont., after the area suffered a drought this summer that forced residents to restrict water use for watering lawns and washing cars.
Treasury Board President Liz Sandals, who represents Guelph, Ont., where residents have been criticizing Nestle, says she finds it frustrating that many opponents don’t realize the company agreed to reduce its water takings from the Aberfoyle well because of the drought.
Sandals says there is “absolutely” a lot of concerns among her constituents about Nestle, but adds a lot of those concerns “actually turn out to be based on misinformation.”
Guelph residents can speak to Nestle’s application at a city council meeting Nov. 7, which was set up after one councillor moved a motion to ask the province to stop Nestle from operating in Aberfoyle.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne ordered a review of the fees Ontario charges bottled water companies — currently just $3.71 per one million litres — before the province rules on Nestle’s renewal application.
In the meantime, Nestle is allowed to keep taking up to 3.6 million litres a day from the Aberfoyle well, while the government decides on renewing its old permit, which expired in July.
Nestle employs over 300 people at a bottling plant in Aberfoyle, and recently outbid the community of Centre Wellington for another nearby well it wants for “future business” but the township wanted for its drinking water supply.
There are local and international petitions opposing Nestle’s water taking permit and its purchase of the new well in Wellington Centre.
Author Margaret Atwood posted a link to one of the petitions on her Twitter feed Wednesday, adding the headline: “Tell Nestle to get its hands off of Ontario’s water supply.”