I am “well” thank you……..

I am well thank you……..

People keep asking if perhaps I have gone off the “deep end” in my support for community access to the Ancaster Well.

If you were to judge the world by what you read in the Ancaster News, and after seeing my mug shot at least 6 times in the paper filling up a big water jug, you might guess that I am down there every week filling up, with placards, and signs and angry stomping “Save Our Spring”.

I would like to take a moment to let you know the real truth behind my relationship with the Ancaster Well.  I have never actually ever filled up there ever or felt the need to gather water beyond my city fed tap to my house.  That picture is a one time shot of me at the well.

So how did I become the face of the well?  My profession is marketing, and I was asked to volunteer to help Save the Well by a local farmer.  I like to get involved, so I offered to do the website and marketing, came up with a logo, posters, and quickly we garnered interest from the local newspaper and TV.  This was great for our cause, however at the last minute my Farmer head piece was too busy to attend, and I was left holding the bag for the interviews.

Having never used the well, I found myself having to quickly get up to speed on the well’s history.  I even confused the mineral well with the spring well in the beginning, I was accused of trying the manipulate the message to purposely stir the masses.

I read everything I could get my hands on so that I would not look like a fool when interviewed on Cable 14.  I read the Federal water “guideline” (please note the language “guidelines is not enforcable by any law”), the Provincial, and the Water System Regulations. I read the history, and we met with the HCA.   What became evident to me after properly researching this, (research…..which I am shocked that any members of the HCA had apparently never thought to do, or perhaps were never told to do.) The well did not meet the requirements of the water standard that was being applied, and as such what the HCA was feeding the public was a crock of poop.  All the HCA had to do was send a letter to the Municipal Health Dept. explaining that the well was erroneously classified as a small drinking water system and later extensive research by local activist group PAWS revealed that this is exactly what the HCA did but never bothered to tell the public this, there is no health order to close the well.  NONE!

Meanwhile our Councillor is in the news claiming himself the well’s champion and asking the public to feed all ideas through him….. at one point he even said

“This is something that we can offer to our community, offer to our citizens, that’s free of charge. It’s an artesian well and it doesn’t matter when you go there, somebody’s there getting some water, either in large tanks or a jug or whatever”

So I even shook LF’s hand at Heritage Days cause I was still hoping for this crusty old man yet.  I am also super excited cause I feel like I found a loop hole.  I write it all out, along with information we found concerning the the land deed and shared it with my SOS steering committee, and now since there is no health order to shut the well, and thru conversations with HCA it was revealed to us that there was an inclination to sell the well (to get out from their perceived liability). I suggested we look to existing community groups to purchase the well and protect the land deed, and have a big party.  That was in July.  The Steering committee further reviewed and discussed and were not comfortable with my suggestions to the point that I was accused of trying to usurp “authority” within our group of 3 remaining Steerers.  What a joke.  I resigned from the un-official steering committee shortly thereafter, and just decided to watch, and continue to support the website and digital media. I chose not to attend any more meetings as there was not open participatory dialogue.  We were the steered – not the steering.

But yet my photo became the stock photo for the Ancaster Well with the Ancaster News, and every follow up story featured me at the well filling up that same bottle of water, and it was me on social media plugging the SOS, never the farmer who formed the group – not once on Social media or any farm events.  I always thought that weird.  So now when I go to 14O’s people are commenting – Jo – you in the news again, everyone is thinking I have my water activist hat on, and while yes, I do, it is not in the way that people are thinking it is.

I felt that the self purported leadership of the SOS really didn’t expect to find any solutions, and were perturbed by these wrenches in their “well” mapped out drama.  I believe that this whole Arsenic health scare is a complete bait and switch, and there are people that had hoped and planned that I would have been a willing participant in this rouse and should done what I was told and fed the community the line of bull shit that they had prepared for me to publish online at their will.

I felt like I was being manipulated.  There were volunteers at the well taking surveys and talking to people.  The hand written survey data was never entered into the survey, figures presented at the “hand off” meeting when our farmer bowed down to the HCA.  The information from the surveys clearly showed that 85% of the people were opposed to the fence or closure.  It showed that 90% of the people lived within a 10k radius of the well and that area also has the LOWEST rate of cancer etc in the region.   The SOS management did not act of behalf of the community as it pledged to do.

So why did the Councillor LF INSIST on fencing in the well and charging a fee to use? Why did he not honor the land deed with City of Hamilton and the HCA or the memory of William Kennedy who’s legacy this is?

This story is still unfolding…..

The Ancaster Well could of, and should remained as it was, open to the public in perpetuity as legally defined in the bill of sale.

But it’s not – our well is in jail.

The fence must go.


Joanne Turnell

Save Our Spring!