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“there is nothing untoward about the City, who is a seller, setting a purchase price for its commodity.”

– –  BC Supreme Court Judge Barbara Young

Ouch!    Maybe the Judge is timely – – at a time when we’re gearing up over   Agri-Food Canada – International Trade’s program to fund and support businesses that will expand the export of water from Canada.

The Judge’s decision:   Benoit v Strathcona (Regional District), 2019 BCSC 362 is at:


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CURRENT STATUS,  April 1, 2019.

As I understand:

  • The lawyer for Area D Residents will return from holidays on April 5th.
  • She believes there are reasonable grounds for appeal.
  • If it is decided to appeal,  the appeal papers have to be submitted by April 14th.
  • The lawyer for Area D has in her head a pretty good grasp of what would go in the appeal papers.


  • The National Office of the Council of Canadians has provided input.
  • Ecojustice has responded:  they don’t have the capacity (April 14th deadline).
  • West Coast Environmental Law (WCEL)  is in conversation about assistance.  Will know more about what’s possible after Area D’s lawyer is returned.


NEWS RELEASE from the CITY is appended.

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On March 14, 2019  BC Judge Barbara Young said that Water is a commodity. 


I am contacting you and others, including the Council of Canadians.   I don’t know who is able to help, on short notice.  I will make a donation for the Appeal.   Many others will, too.

The statement comes as a shock.

The petitioner is reluctant to appeal.  His name is on the court papers, the front man on behalf of everyone else.  It was hard for a small community to raise the $54,000 needed for the court hearing.  The only good outcome:  the Judge did not require the petitioner and community to pay the costs of the other side (the City of Campbell River), estimated to be around $100,000.   The rural people were certain that the Law was on their side going into the Court hearing.   It looks more like a crap shoot, now.  Losing an appeal would mean bankruptcy.

SOURCE OF INFO:  I spoke with Director Brenda Leigh from the Strathcona Regional District Board (Campbell River) on Vancouver Island, B.C..  I had called about another matter (a resolution regarding bottled water:  2019-01-28 Intro to the “Strathcona Resolution” re the export of  Water ).   This court case is a DIFFERENT matter.  Don’t know if it’s been reported yet.

The water rates for “Area D” (rural) have gone from $.66 a cubic metre to $1.36 and are set to go to $1.56 at the next Meeting of the Board.  The City has an easy majority on the Board.   The water isn’t pumped to Area D, it’s by gravity feed, and so on.   City residents pay $.68 a cubic metre.  There’s an old agreement that governs (I think it was the rural area that agreed to share its water supply with Campbell River in the first place.)   (In between the lines, the developers are shut out from the Planning Function for Area D;  they want at it.)

Brenda was a force behind the court case over the water;  she is well supported by her community, has been working hard for them, for 27 years as a Director.   She is knowledgeable, even-handed and experienced.

From my point-of-view, she needs help on an issue of importance to all Canadians.

I will be appreciative of your thoughts on this matter.

Is it possible for Canadians to pull together on this and appeal a court decision in which it is stated that Water is a commodity and the City can charge whatever it likes to the adjacent rural people, many of whom are elders on pensions?  As I understand, they were badgered to give up their local wells in the interests of the city folks, in the first place.  They did so responsibly, by negotiating a contract to protect them against arbitrary price hikes.   But that was then, a couple decades ago.  The price was tied to what was paid by a local mill.  The mill closed down.  The pegged cost was lost.  The price increase will drive people out of their homes.  Which the developers and their collaborators on council will like just fine.

Best wishes,


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With thanks to Linda:   the press release from the City of Campbell River.   

News Release
For details on this and other City of Campbell River services, events and information, please visit our website at  
March 15, 2019
B.C. Supreme Court sides with City on water rates charged outside municipal boundary
On March 14, the BC Supreme Court issued its judgment on a petition challenging water fees charged to residents of Area D of the Strathcona Regional District.
In its ruling, the Court found that the City is authorized to enact bylaws to set fees for bulk water sold outside its boundaries, and to charge a fee that reflects the cost of delivering water to residents outside City boundaries.
Madam Justice Young stated that “there is nothing untoward about the City, who is a seller, setting a purchase price for its commodity.”
She concluded that the water fee increases imposed by the City are linked to the cost of delivering water, and that the City has no obligation to subsidize the water supply to the SRD.
“Along with dismissing the petition, the BC Supreme Court judgment confirms that the City has the authority to set water rates charged  outside City boundaries and that the rates are valid and lawful ,” said Mayor Andy Adams.   “The City bylaw was approved by Council as a matter of principle to offer services to neighbouring communities in a manner that is financially responsible and sustainable.”
The Mayor adds, “The City recognizes the Strathcona Regional District as a valued government partner, and with this court case is resolved, we commit to moving forward to work together on other areas of mutual interest.”
The petition was filed on July 4, 2018.
Campbell River’s water system distributes potable water for domestic, commercial and industrial use as well as fire protection via watermains running throughout the community, to local First Nations and a portion of Strathcona Regional District Area D.
Ron Neufeld, Deputy City Manager

  3 Responses to “2019-03-14 B.C. Supreme Court Judge says: Water is a commercial commodity”

  1. It appears to me that it is the delivery of the water that is commodified.

    I pay a delivery service fee to the Black Mtn. Irrig. District. We’re not on meters, yet, but the City of Kelowna has been pressuring the various regional district irrigation systems to become absorbed into the city’s water utility. Among other things, the City of Kelowna would take over the billing of the “ratepayers”.

    We’ll become City of Kelowna water utility customers.

    But I do agree that commodifying water has been on the drawing board for around 70 years, now…

    • David – – thanks. And note: I posted Joyce Nelson’s article – – the link you supplied. Appreciated.

  2. SITE C DAM – just the tip of the 70-year-old ‘iceberg’ . . . . !

    WATCH THIS: SITE C DAM – Changing the Dialogue – Wendy Holm (Links no longer valid)

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