The mayor of La Peche, Que., is considering a plan to bring in an outside company to bottle some of the water from the Wakefield Spring.
The spring has long been a source of free, clean water for residents and cottagers driving north from Ottawa-Gatineau.
But mayor Robert Bussière said most of the water that flows underground is "lost" to the Gatineau River. He said for a community in need of new sources of public funds, it's an opportunity lost.
"What we'll be trying to do [is] think of a way to maybe invite a company to capture that water that is being lost anyway with a percentage of that money [coming] back into community and help the municipality and infrastructure," said Bussière.
He said local residents and people driving up to the spring will still be able to get their water for free, but the water bottled and sold could go into a community fund.
Activist said mayor shouldn't rush to privatize
Peter Andrée, the chair of the community group Save Our Spring Wakefield, said about 5,000 people a year use the water source, and said the spring holds a special place in the community as a meeting place and public resource, and worries the mayor's plan would undermine that.
"Increasingly we are told that we have to privatize and every use has to pay for the little bit of these public resources that we use. Well I believe...that some things should be kept in common, shared in common and celebrated in common as our common resource," said Andrée.
Bussière said he hasn't addressed his proposal to the newly-elected municipal council, but said he has brought it up before at committee.
"In the past I was told I was a fool," said Bussière.
But he said it would help fund projects in the community.
"It would be a wonderful thing to create all of our community dreams that we're all waiting and wanting," said Bussière.