Nestle Waters Canada proposes voluntary levy to Erin council

Nestlé Waters Canada is offering the Town of Erin a voluntary fee on its annual water taking, which officials say shows the company’s commitment to the municipality.

The proposal is $0.50 per 1,000 litres annually, with a minimum payment of $25,000 and no cap.

While Nestlé Waters can draw up to 406 million litres annually from its well near Hillsburgh, company officials say it has not reached the maximum in 16 years of operation.

Based on data from 2000 to 2016, Erin would have received between $27,000 and $141,000 annually if the levy had been in place.

“We really wanted to understand the areas where we can improve on and get people’s view on our operations,” said Nestlé Waters’ natural resource manager Andreanne Simard at the Feb. 1 council meeting.

“We want to be something that the community can depend on annually … add value to the community and be something tangible that the community can benefit from every year.”

Councillor Jeff Duncan said the re-establishment of a Nestlé Waters levy has been one of his priorities since he was elected in 2014.

From 2001 to 2006, Nestlé, then Perrier Group, paid the town $0.50 per imperial gallon. Duncan said reinstating the fee would “correct the inequity to our residents.”

“This levy stopped in 2006; it’s a decade that our residents have not received basically any revenue from a multi-national, very successful product,” Duncan said.

Councillor John Brennan welcomed the levy.

“When we put it together with the talks we’ve had over the last few years about potential passive use of the lands up there for park purposes and that sort of thing, I think this comes together to create a much better profile of [Nestlé Waters] among the community and I salute you for taking this step,” Brennan said.

Council voted in favour of receiving the report and directed staff to review the presentation and bring a recommendation to a future meeting – likely in March.

Nestlé Waters does not pay a voluntary levy to Puslinch Township for the facility it operates in Aberfoyle, where it is permitted to draw up 3.6 million litres of water daily.

Nestlé has also committed to office hours in Erin. Its next office hours in Wellington are:

– Feb. 13 from 9 to 11am at the Nestlé Elora Community Office (9 Mill St. E.);

– Feb. 22 from 1 to 3pm at the Puslinch Community Centre (23 Brock Rd. S.); and

– Feb. 27 from 9 to 11am at the Hillsburgh Community Centre (95 Trafalgar Rd.).