Council to ban bottled water at most city-run events
Thunder Bay city council passed a resolution this month to ban the sale of bottled water at most city-run events.
Thunder Bay already has a policy in place that limits the distribution of bottled water at city facilities, such as city hall, where safe, potable water is available. The policy does allow for bottled water under certain circumstances, such as in emergency situations.
The new resolution extends the ban to city-run events. However, it doesn’t cover major events, such as Canada Day celebrations or privately-run events at city facilities.
The city plans to have the ban in place by March 2016.
In addition, the resolution recognized water as a human right, and set out to promote city-owned water and wastewater systems.
Janice Horgos, a member of the Thunder Bay chapter of the Council of Canadians, which advocates for social and environmental justice, said she is “very proud” of the council’s decision.
“There was a lot of community support, a dozen organizations wrote letters to city council encouraging them to do this,” she said.
“The private water industry is …. purchasing water very cheaply, often draining aquifers, using up municipal tap water and selling it as bottled water for huge profits,” she said. “That’s happening here in Ontario.”
The ban helped Thunder Bay earn the title of Canada’s 17th “blue community.”
The designation is “a bit symbolic,” said Mark Green, who manages environmental services for the city of St. Catherines, a blue community since 2012. But components like the bottled water ban are more than symbolic, Green said, because it can change the way people think.
“It makes people think, ‘Yeah … tap water is just as safe. The city and the region does a great job of treating it, making it available, I don’t really need to pay a dollar for a bottle of water,’” said Green.
“We’re right on the shore of Lake Ontario, one of the biggest lakes in the world. It looks like there’s an endless supply of water, so part of the challenge was just to remind people that we’re lucky to be here.”
- Listen to an interview with Mark Green in the audio player above
Horgos, who is also the chair of the Council of Canadians’ blue planet committee, said she hopes the message would lead to less bottled water sold around the city.