Local News

Wellington County takes centre stage in Nestlé dispute

Story by: Kayla Kreutzberg

Stock Photo.

Nestlé is in the midst of trying to sell most of its North American water bottling business.

There is currently a moratorium in place on new permits to take water for bottling in Ontario, until next spring.

Mike Balkwill, campaign director with the Wellington Water Watchers says there is now a special moment where it’s up in the air, with what’s going to happen to Nestlé.

“We’re demanding that Nestlé divest itself of several of its most controversial and sensitive locations before they proceed with the sale of their North American operation,” Balkwill said.

Balkwill says that means returning the Aberfoyle complex back to Six Nations, because it’s part of the Haldimand Tract land.

He says the water advocacy group is also asking Nestlé to return the Hillsburgh well back to the town of Erin, and the Middlebrook well back to the Township of Centre Wellington.

Balkwill says it would be wonderful if Nestlé was generous.

“And offered to give the Aberfoyle complex to Six Nations and offered to at least sell the Middlebrook and Hillsburgh locations to their respective municipalities” he said.

However, Balkwill says it would be out of character for Nestlé to be so generous and aware of what the public needs.

Balkwill says for 20 years, Nestlé has been taking essentially the future water security of people in Wellington County.

“They’ve been bottling it and selling it to communities across Eastern Canada and beyond, they’ve been exporting the profits to Switzerland, while only 60 kilometres away, 90 per cent of the residents of Six Nations lack clean drinking water,” he said.

Balkwill says if Nestlé does not give back to the wells, then the water advocacy group is urging the provincial government to step in and buy them back.

Nestlé was contacted for comment, but they did not respond back.