Category Archives: Blue Communities

Is Our Community Watershed Protected?

jump lake
Jump Lake

The answer may suprise you.

The cities of Vancouver and Victoria own their watersheds and control all of the activity within them, guaranteeing the security and quality of their water supply. But the City of Nanaimo does not own the community drinking watershed that supplies the residents of our community.

The city of Nanaimo owns two dams and two reservoirs, the South Forks dam and reservoir and the Jump Lake dam and reservoir but it only owns a few meters of the land around these lakes. The rest of the watershed land surrounding these reservoirs, including all of the creeks and streams that drain into these lakes, is owned by two forest companies. Island Timberlands, a subsidiary company of the multi-national corporation Brookfiled Asset Management owns 86% of the Nanaimo community drinking watershed and TimberWest another forest company, owns the remaining 14%. The City of Nanaimo does not even have a written agreement with these companies that guarantees the city access to the dams or reservoirs.

Why is this important?

Over the past fifty years there has been increased logging in the watershed to the point where there is no old growth forest left. Logging increases soil erosion, which leads to turbidity in the water. Turbidity makes it more difficult to kill pathogens in the water and increasing chlorine levels creates carcinogenic by-products. Also, it has not always been easy for the city to monitor industrial activity in the watershed. A previous owner, forest giant Weyerhauser, used fertilizer in the watershed that was proven to be laced with heavy metals and toxic chemicals and made tree-planters sick.

The Shawnigan Lake Precedent

The headwaters for the Shawnigan Lake watershed used to be predominantly owned by a single land-owner, a German Prince who believed in sustainable forestry. That land was sold in 1999, completely clear-cut logged and then subdivided. Now there are four mining operations in the watershed and one of the granite quarry’s has a permit for a contaminated toxic soil dump fifteen meters from the main tributary to the lake. The lake is the drinking water source for 12,000 people. This could happen in the Nanaimo community drinking watershed. There are two land-owners in the watershed now but that could change anytime.

The Victoria Precedent

Natural forests are the best filters for purifying water, which is why the Capital Regional District halted all logging and other activity in the Sooke Lake watershed decades ago. The CRD recently purchased an additional watershed, the Leech river, which they are letting grow back to a natural state for future needs.

It’s Time for Action!

A clean, high quality, secure source of drinking water is the most important asset that any city can own. It’s time for the City of Nanaimo to start the process of purchasing or expropriating the important parts of the Nanaimo community-drinking watershed to protect it now and for future generations. The most important sections are the valleys and streams above Jump Lake that flow into the lake.

Contact the Nanaimo City Mayor and Council and the Nanaimo Regional District and let them know that you want the community to own our drinking watershed. Email Nanaimo Mayor and Council at Email the RDN board care of Linda Burgoyne at

For more information visit the Vancouver Island Water Watch Coalition website and watch Paul Manly’s documentary “Troubled Water”.

Spread the word! Download & distribute our pamphlet about Nanaimo’s community watershed.

BC Initiative for Community Control of Drinking Watersheds


The Mid Island Chapter of the Council of Canadians has put together a petition, both online and in official paper form, to push for more local control over community drinking watersheds. The petition wording is based on a resolution passed at the Union of BC Municipalities in 2011. Paul Manly’s documentary film Troubled Water provides a number of examples of why this petition is so important, especially here on the East coast of Vancouver Island.

This downloadable PDF file is the official petition. We will submit the signed petitions to our MLA so they can be tabled during the debate over the new BC Water Act in the spring. Please print the petition and ask your family, friends and neighbours to sign it and then mail the completed petitions to Mid Island Chapter Council of Canadians, Box 1093, Station A, Nanaimo B.C., V9R 2A5.

We encourage you to also join the online petition campaign and circulate it to your friends.

Thank You!

WIN! Nanaimo becomes a blue community!

By Brent Patterson

Yesterday, June Ross and Paul Manly of the Mid Island chapter of the Council of Canadians presented Nanaimo mayor John Ruttan with a ‘Blue Community’ certificate.


It was on March 26, 2012, that the Council of Canadians, Vancouver Island Water Watch, CUPE Local 410 and the Island Glass Artisans first approached Nanaimo city council to make the request that the city become a blue community. To become a blue community, a municipality must recognize water as a human right, ban the sale of bottled water in public facilities and at municipal events, and commit to promoting publicly financed, owned and operated water and wastewater services.

Congratulations to the chapter and our allies who campaigned hard to win this designation, including overcoming opposition from Nestle Waters Canada as noted here,

Along with the certificate, the chapter presented city councillors with stainless steel water bottles with the logo, ‘Proud to be a Blue Community’. They told councillors that they should consider purchasing them and selling them at all their venues to go along with the water fill up stations – and that they would make a great tourist item!

The Council of Canadians is thrilled to be holding its next annual conference in Nanaimo – now a blue community! – on October 26-27, 2012.

For information on how to make your community a Blue Community, go to