Sue Moen

For Campbell River City Councilor


Sue Moen

For Campbell River City Councilor

Water: Coming and going

Oct 12, 2022 | Environment, Healthy City, Human Health, Reconciliation, Uncategorized

Water is Life.

I am surprised at how little water has been talked about during this election campaign. Municipalities have a lot of power to protect drinking water sources and to regulate and manage water use and run off.

Water is life – plain and simple. We should be taking every step possible to protect and restore wetlands and watersheds for ecosystem and human needs. Campbell River is privileged to have a very large watershed and is in proximity to both fresh and salt water that serve many purposes. But they are all at risk – climate change, toxic waste, industry, high impact recreation and very high (500 litres/person/day), sometimes wasteful, use.

We have a great system at the city for mapping all the features and assets within and in proximity to our urban containment boundary. We must deploy staff and resources to immediately catalogue this critical infrastructure. I’ve seen pictures and heard stories of bogs/wetlands and streams being filled in on private property because they weren’t mapped, were little known, if at all and no one was providing oversight.

The Council of Canadians provided the following questions for their subscribers to ask municipal candidates. They are good questions and I’ve provided my answers below.

Public-private partnerships (P3s) for water and wastewater infrastructure can be more costly to municipalities, decrease water quality, increase costs and cut jobs. What is your position on the participation of private, for-profit partners in municipal water, wastewater and stormwater services?

I do not support P3s based on significant evidence that they do prove more costly and lead to inequitable access to drinking water. We must expand our vision about what wastewater and stormwater management looks like. Large, sprawling and costly infrastructure may not be the most effective or efficient way to deal with these issues. And these challenges are being compounded by climate breakdown, deforestation and loss of wetlands in urban settings. I saw an example of a neighbourhood wastewater treatment system years ago. Neighbourhoods were connected to a local treatment plant In a 600 square foot building that treated the water, removed waste and used the bio-solids to generate the required energy to run the plant. This model serves as an antidote to the cost of replacing and improving aging infrastructure in a cost-effective way. Stormwater runoff also needs to be addressed more individually and locally. Every building should be outfitted to mitigate the volume of rain water entering the system. Rain capture, rain gardens, environmental design (permeable lanes and driveways for example) can all decrease the volume which then lessen the excess runoff into streams and rivers which disturbs those environments and decreases their productivity. The city must create bylaws to require this for new builds and incentivize retrofits. I pass a lovely new duplex on my daily dog walk, and the whole front yard is a concrete pad – this just doesn’t make sense.

Communities across Canada are raising concerns about the impacts of water-takings from local watersheds by for-profit bottling companies. Citizens are calling on municipal governments and school boards to stop selling bottled water. Would you support a ban on the sale of single-use water bottles in public facilities and at public events in our municipality? Campbell River signed onto the Blue City initiative several years ago so does not sell bottled water in their facilities. I’m not sure about the School Board facilities, but will encourage them to stop if they still do. I have worked with the Canada Day Committee and the Campbell River Farmers Market to prevent food (or anyone else) from selling bottled water. The city has supported these efforts by providing re-usable bottles and with the installation of drinking water ‘hydrants’ downtown. I’d like to extend that work to more neighbourhoods – especially recreational areas and facilities. We also have to increase support within the city and NGO’s for education about the many downsides of bottled water and that includes extending peoples’ definition of the product – all those sparkling, flavored and enhanced waters are still bottled water. And many sodas, juices and other beverages are very water intense without added benefit to peoples’ health.

What would you do to make tap water more available in public gathering places and events in our municipality? See above note re: providing infrastructure for access across the city.

Will you ensure that no household will have their water cut off due to non-payment? Absolutely! Water is life.

Will you work together with the federal and provincial governments to ensure access to clean drinking water on all First Nations reserves? Will you advocate for Indigenous control of community water resources? Yes and yes. I support Land Guardians and have proposed that we establish an Indigenous-led Department of Reconciliation at city hall. Decisions about land use, food, water and energy must include the Indigenous Nations whose lands and waters our community is built on.