Plan to extract, bottle water at private Merville property draws public anger
Courtenay residents are voicing their anger over one family's plans to extract and sell raw drinking water from their neighbourhood.
Neighbours are upset that the province has granted a permit for up to 10,000 litres of raw water to be extracted per day from a private property on Sackville Road in Merville, just north of Courtenay.
The group raised their concerns at a meeting of Comox Valley Regional District directors on Monday, saying the project will lower well levels in the area.
"This is precedent-setting and we are really worried as community members, as farmers, as people who have shallow wells close by," said Arzeena Hamir, a resident who attended the meeting.
Building a small facility to bottle the water on-site will require rezoning throughout the entire Comox Valley Regional District, an undertaking some directors stated their opposition to.
"I ask this question: Why would the committee not take this opportunity to save the proponent all the time and money and deny it right at this point?" Area C Director Edwin Grieve asked, prompting applause from the crowd.
Others fear the project would lead to extra traffic in the area and don't want to see water exported.
But the couple behind the plan say their hobby farm efforts are far less ambitious and that they're the victims of a misinformation campaign.
"It was leaked to the public with false information about exporting water out of the province…to distract people from the reality that our proposal was just a minute-scale extraction of water," said proponent Christopher Mackenzie.
The couple bore a deep-drill well which they say taps into a 150-square-kilometre aquifer to produce alkaline water.
They say it's the largest on Vancouver Island and won't affect any other landowners.
"The alkaline water can reduce the acidity that is caused by a poor diet for example, and there are proven scientific studies that alkaline water is good for your health," said Regula Heynck.
The couple is encouraging people to contact them directly for correct information on what they have planned.
The regional district says a full public meeting would be required before it considers rezoning the property.