A town councillor in Centre Wellington says it is inappropriate for Nestlé Waters Canada to seek one-on-one meetings between the township's councillors and company officials.
"Nestlé contacted me and other councilors by e-mail on Dec.23 following their presentation to council where they stated, 'I am hoping to meet with you early in 2017 to discuss these ideas in further detail and solicit your feedback,'" Coun. Stephen Kitras said in a statement emailed to media outlets Thursday evening.
"This is inappropriate and I will not be meeting with them personally. I support the moratorium implemented by the province. I also support an open and public process regarding this vital issue that concerns current and future water needs for our community."
Kitras made the statement after two groups – SaveOurWater.CA and Wellington Water Watchers – accused Nestlé and the township of having closed door meetings about the well.
'Nothing is going on'
Both Nestlé and Mayor Kelly Linton denied the accusations.
"Simply put, nothing is going on," Linton said in an email.
"While it seems that some find some enjoyment in creating a stir about nothing, there have been no background deals. Period," he wrote.
Jennifer Kerr, Nestlé Waters Canada director of corporate affairs, said Thursday night the email Kitras received was sent to all the councillors.
She said the email, which was signed by the company's natural resources manager, Andreanne Simard, after Simard appeared before council on Dec. 12.
Simard attended the meeting to suggest a partnership between the company and the township over the Middlebrook well in Elora, which Nestle purchased in August.
Nestlé, which put a conditional offer on the property in 2014 and was waiting for provincial permission to perform a pump test of the well, waived all conditions and bought the well when a second anonymous buyer came forward with an offer for the former Middlebrook Water Company property.
Nestlé waived conditions to buy well
It was later revealed that second buyer was the Township of Centre Wellington.
Simard told CBC KW's The Morning Edition host Craig Norris what the partnership might look like is unclear, but the company wanted to start a conversation with the township.
"Now it's time to move forward and work together on a Centre Wellington-made solution," Simard said. "It will be something specific to Centre Wellington and to ensure that their community water supply needs are met first."
Here is the full email Nestlé says was sent to Centre Wellington councillors:
Good Afternoon Councillor Kitras,
I hope that this email finds you well. I just wanted to send you a brief note to thank you for hearing from myself and colleagues at Nestle Waters Canada at your council meeting on December 12th. We appreciated the opportunity discuss our desire to partner with both council, and the community in determining a path forward for the Middlebrook property.
With this in mind, I am hoping to meet with you early in 2017 to discuss these ideas in further detail and solicit your feedback. If you are interested, it would be great to arrange a meeting in January, perhaps during or after my Community Drop-In Hours in Elora or at another time and location that is convenient for you. My next Community hours will be in Erin on January 9th and returning to Elora on January 16th.
Please let me know if there is a day/time and location that is convenient for you.
Thank you once again for taking the time to hear from us, and I hope that you have a safe and happy holiday season.