Water privatization should not be an accepted standard practice

Water should be open and accessible to everyone, not just another resource to hoard and sell

(Kristen Frier)

As we get closer to summer, with sunny weather and high temperatures, many people may be planning to visit swimming pools or lakes to stay cool.

However, after a recent court ruling in a B.C. on March 5, two of the province’s lakes may be harder to access.

Stan Kroenke, a U.S. billionaire and rancher, who is famous for owning the Colorado Avalanche and L.A. Rams, successfully won the court battle giving him the right to block access to Stoney Lake and Minnie Lake from the public This is because the lakes are situated in the property boundaries of the Douglas Lake Ranch, which Kroenke owns, even though in B.C., the lakes are considered public property.

According to the court judges, the old Crown-owned wagon road that provides anglers access to the edges of Stoney Lake and Minnie Lake does not actually reach there, which was brought up by Kroenke’s lawyers. The judges also found insufficient evidence that Indigenous people have used a trail to reach Minnie Lake.

It should be noted that, unlike other jurisdictions, B.C. does not have legislation regarding public access with the exception of Crown-land protections. Despite this, there has been pressure on the current provincial government to invest in making sure that the public has continuous access to nature. In addition, the case has been connected to a larger movement internationally called the “right to roam,” which was proposed in a 2017 bill tabled by Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Andrew Weaver.

This case could also set a worrying precedent in allowing private organizations to purchase property close to lakes or wilderness with the intent of blocking the general populace from accessing those areas, despite the areas being public property.

With all that in mind, privatization of water is a horrible idea.

If something is deemed public property, especially if it contains a necessity such as water, it should be publicly accessible. No one person or party should have control over that, even if they are a billionaire.

Unfortunately, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the idea of water privatization has only increased around the world.

With COVID-19 putting the world into a frenzy, necessities such as water and sanitization have been put under pricier benchmarks, giving private organizations and corporations a quick and large profit, with public health and safety placed as a lesser priority. One notable concern that the pandemic has some worried about is that it will further empower companies to commercialize public water services, which is becoming more common in other areas of the world.

With the pandemic getting closer to the end, the lakes in our province are an important necessity that should be kept open for everyone to access, and they should be protected through more pressure on the government. And while Kroenke seems to have gotten the final say on who can and cannot access Stoney Lake and Minnie Lake, this is hopefully going to be an exception rather than a standard we see in the future.