September 18th, 2018

Ford’s closed-door meeting with Chinese corporation raises concern

Xinyi seeking to extract 1.6 million litres of water per day from at-risk aquifer in Guelph region

Ontario’s New Democrats want Doug Ford to explain why he secretly met with a corporation seeking to extract 1.6 million litres of water each day from the aquifer in the township of Guelph/Eramosa, which has experienced water shortages for years – and why Ford is now criticizing the people and the township for protecting their water.

Ford admitted to the meeting under questioning in the legislature Monday, when he said “Guelph” was wrong to deny Chinese corporation Xinyi’s application to move into the rural township of Guelph/Eramosa; an application that included the massive daily extraction from the water table.

“Why does Mr. Ford think the township of Guelph/Erasmosa should rip up a longstanding industrial water limit bylaw and threaten the drinking water in the region?” asked NDP critic for the Environment and Sustainability, Ian Arthur. “The people who depend on this at-risk aquifer are worried about Ford’s declaration that he not only met in secret with Xinyi, but that he’s taking the corporation’s side – and they have good reason to be.”

The Chinese glass company development permit application in the township of Guelph/Eramosa proposed development in an area zoned for “dry use” only. But the company proposed to extract 1.6 million litres of water from the water table each day. The township rejected the application, and last month the company announced that it would not appeal.

It’s not known when the company met with Ford – and the Integrity Commissioner has no record of any lobbyists registered on Xinyi’s behalf. The province’s lobbyist registry tracks when corporations meet with the premier in an effort to prevent secret meetings and ensure transparent government process.

Like other municipalities in Wellington County, the township of Guelph/Eramosa relies on groundwater from an at-risk aquifer, and has placed restrictions on outside water use to ensure an adequate supply for drinking, sanitation, washing and farm use. The rural township also has a zoning bylaw that limits industrial uses at the proposed development site to “dry industrial,” meaning that significant water extractions are not permitted.