The decision by Nestlé Waters Canada to waive any sale conditions and buy a well near Elora came after the Township of Centre Wellington made an offer on the same property, according to the township's mayor.
- Nestlé purchases Elora property ahead of pump test approvals
- Nestle's water taking permit in Aberfoyle under review by Ontario's Ministry of Environment
- Amid drought, environmentalists want Nestlé to stop water taking in Aberfoyle, Ont.
Mayor Kerry Linton told CBC News the township received some unexpected money from the local Jack R. MacDonald Trust and council agreed to use it to try to buy the former Middlebrook Water Company property.
Nestlé had a conditional offer on the property and was waiting for the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change to give them permission to perform an official pump test – something the company has been waiting on for months.
But the offer by Centre Wellington forced their hand – the company had just 20 days to decide if they would waive the conditions and go ahead with the sale.
"We didn't really know what Nestlé would do. We had a lot of discussion about it. It was a very serious offer we put forward – it was a no conditions attached, serious money offer, and we knew one of the conditions Nestlé had was the results of the pump test. So we weren't sure if they would agree to purchase the property without getting any results back," Linton said.
"Unfortunately, we weren't able to purchase the property but we'll continue the same process that we have going forward, working with all parties to protect our water source."
Community in 'heavy growth mode'
Linton said the purchase was not to keep Nestlé out of the community, but rather to protect the water source for future use.
"We are in a heavy growth mode," he said, with more people living and working in the township.
'It was a very serious offer we put forward.' - Township of Centre Wellington Mayor Kerry Linton
The municipality will need to find another source of water in the next decade, he said.
Buying the Middlebrook property "meant that we could guarantee that commercial water taking would not negatively impact our water source, but we wouldn't have done it just to block [Nestlé]," he said.
He applauded Premier Kathleen Wynne for saying the province will review the permits of all bottled water companies, calling it "a very positive step."
The future of water in the community is a concern to residents - many have spoken out against Nestlé coming into the area. Local water advocates have said while a pump test of the Middlebrook property would be welcome so they can fully understand what the well holds, they don't want the water giant to take water from it.
A petition on Change.org called on Nestlé to "keep out of Elora."
Linton said he hears concerns regularly and he wants to make sure council moves forward with facts.
"There's a lot of information out there, a lot of misinformation out there, there's a lot of fear that we're not going to have enough water for the future and that's something that I've always said and we've said as a council, we want to take a real science-based approach to this," he said.