Both the NDP and Green parties in Ontario have advocated that the Liberal government take into account public concern when the province’s water-taking permit is reviewed.
“Water is a public trust. Under an NDP government, an Ontario Water Strategy will prioritize planning for water needs now and for future generations based on the public interest, and sustainable public access to water,” said Andrea Horwath, Ontario’s NDP leader, after a public roundtable discussion in Guelph on September 29th.
Ontario Regulation 387/04: Water Taking and Transfer instructs the Director to first consider “issues relating to the need to protect the natural functions of the ecosystem.” And, under the provisions of the legislation, any proposed water-takings project listed category two or 3 is subject to having a qualified scientific review of the intended extraction.
Mike Schreiner, Ontario’s Green Party leader, said in an open letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne that “over the past decade, legislative reports have repeatedly warned your government that Ontario’s Permit To Take Water (PTTW) process is broken, and corporations pay a rate that is too low to reflect the true cost to our province [sic].”
The charge for companies to extract water is $3.71 per million litres in addition to a licencing fee.
Ultimately, the charges for the industrial and commercial uses of water taking (405/07) are intended to “recover a portion of the costs the Government of Ontario incurs in the administration of the Act and any other Act for the purpose of promoting the conservation, protection, and management of Ontario’s waters and their efficient and sustainable use.”
While Schreiner continued to argue for prioritization of local water use, he nonetheless recommended that the water-taking fee for corporations be raised. Horwath, meanwhile, emphasized that the permit process is about “stewardship and sustainability.”
Wynne has expressed a desire for a public consultation with respect to the water-taking permit process.
Bottled water is a contentious issue across Canada; Montreal’s mayor recently called for a ban on plastic water bottles.