We hope common sense prevails when Erin council makes a decision next week on a volunteer levy Nestlé Waters has offered the town.
It was surprising to hear that after years of groaning about how the municipality receives nothing in return from Nestlé, which operates a well near Hillsburgh, community members and at least one councillor are suggesting the municipality reject the Nestlé levy.
As proposed, the levy would generate for the town an annual average of $40,000 – possibly upwards of $100,000 – in additional revenue, in a time when money is tight and municipalities are always looking for ways to improve their bottom lines.
Two local groups, the Wellington Water Watchers (WWW) and the Green Well Ecological Collaborative (GWEC), are strongly opposed to council accepting the levy, suggesting it somehow sets a “dangerous” precedent, that it amounts to a “transaction” with “serious implications,” and that the public should have a say before the town makes a “rushed” decision.
That’s all nonsense. The levy was first proposed on Feb. 1 – the town certainly is not moving at breakneck speed and it is under no obligation to hold public meetings on the matter. Further, municipalities do not have any say on water bottling operations. Maybe one day the province will prohibit such operations – and the WWW has made a strong case to that effect – but until then these companies will continue to operate, so it makes sense for the town to secure valuable revenue while it can. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
The GWEC has even suggested it will raise $40,000-plus per year to replace the funding the town would lose by rejecting the levy. We highly doubt that’s possible, but if it is, why not raise the money regardless?
Combined with the Nestlé levy, that could have a serious impact on the betterment of the community.