A gathering at the Nestlé Waters plant in Hope last week was the latest in a series of actions by the Council of Canadians, who are calling for a boycott of Nestlé to stop its bottling of B.C. and Ontario groundwater.
On April 3, four water campaigners taped a hand-written sign reading ‘boycott’ in red lettering over the Nestlé Waters sign in Hope, aiming to challenge a recent certification the company received and the for-profit taking of water from Hope’s watershed. They also called for the Horgan government to phase-out these operations across B.C. and called for people to join the nation-wide Nestle boycott which has gotten 63,688 signatures to date.“We really wanted to challenge that and really highlight that what they’re doing is not sustainable. They’re drawing 300 million litres of water from the plant every year. They are doing it, as far as we know, without a permit,” said water campaigner Emma Lui.
On March 21, Nestlé Waters confirmed the Hope factory as the first Canadian facility to get certified under the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) Standard. The Council of Canadians calls this ‘bluewashing’, stating it is a self-certification as the AWS was created, according to the Council, by Nestlé and other large water corporations.
In an emailed response, Nestlé Waters Canada’s director of corporate affairs Jennifer Kerr stated the company “is proud to have achieved certification to the Alliance for Water Stewardship Standard – the only internationally recognized Standard developed in partnership with not-for-profit groups, including The Nature Conservancy and World Wildlife Fund.”
Water campaigner for the Council of Canadians Emma Lui said the operations of Nestlé Waters in Hope does not have a permit to extract water and also does not have prior-informed consent from the Sto:lo First Nation.
The Sto:lo Nation was not involved in the April 3 action at Nestlé Waters in Hope.
Kerr stated the company is following the BC Water Sustainability Act’s requirements for groundwater withdrawal and has filed a permit application with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
When the permit is released for review from the ministry, Kerr stated First Nations would be consulted.
“We have been in discussions and conducted plant and spring tours for the Sto:lo through their People of the River Referrals Office and also with other local First Nations interested. We remain open to conversations with all local First Nations,” Kerr stated.
Lui hopes by circulating the photo and video from the action online, that B.C. residents will be prompted to write to the Horgan government adding their voices to the Council of Canadians call for a phase-out of these water bottling plants.