By Rebecca Martin
What a fall into winter it has been. I was nearly out of the game after a decade of community work in Kingston – happily moving back into music making without interruption – when news broke that a national water bottling company was planning to move into our area as early as April of 2015. With hardly any time to respond, what became clear was that a whole host of items had been neatly placed in line to make it possible for the Niagara Bottling Company to come and to purchase up to 1.75 million gallons of water per day (and probably ultimately more) of Kingston’s municipal water. All of which had been orchestrated without the public and many elected officials knowledge.
After months of organizing on our own we have successfully brought a host of troubling circumstances to light, and have helped to create a strong group of citizens, elected officials and organizations that will one day build a water coalition to protect what is a finite resource.
Although we’ve been framed as the ‘opposition’ or a ‘watchdog group’ in the Niagara Water Bottling project, what KingstonCitizens.org is – and has always been – is a platform that encourages the public to participate thoughtfully by providing important information to contemplate alongside educational opportunities. This site has been up since 2007. Please go back and have a look at the wealth of information here to see for yourself.
We are beholden to no one other than the public having never solicited or accepted a dime to do this work. Our group has always been a volunteer effort motivated by the desire to be useful within our community – and we are here to stay.
In the New Year, the public will have the opportunity to voice in on the proposed Niagara Water Bottling project after working hard to secure a Formal Public Scoping process and Positive Declaration in SEQR. Our collective community will need to patiently stay the course. We must remind ourselves and together, one another.
Whatever the outcome for Niagara, with our new and growing awareness there is much that we can do to improve our city with the help of our elected officials. Charter reform, long range planning for infrastructure, creating new sustainable water rates and more.
But for today, we take nothing for granted and appreciate our old and new friends and colleagues along with our challenges and challengers, too.
May you all enjoy the holiday season.