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Water advocacy group asks Campbell River council to ban bottled water

A group of clean water advocates wants the city to ban the sale of bottled water.

Three members of Campbell River’s Council of Canadians branch urged council last week to consider banning bottled water in all city owned and administered concessions, vending machines, and public facilities where access to tap water exists.

Joanne Banks said Campbell River’s tap water is safe, healthy and substantially more sustainable than single-use water bottles.

“Bottled water undermines tap water. They say bottled water is cleaner and safer,” Banks said.

“Luckily, Canadians aren’t buying the bottled water sales job. The facts are clear –bottled water is less regulated than tap water, it produces mountains of garbage, and it uses a tremendous amount of energy in production.”

The group told council that bottled water sold in the city can be thousands of times more expensive than water from the tap, even though it’s estimated that a large percentage of bottled water comes from municipal water systems.

Council was also told that many water bottles end up on beaches, in parks and other public spaces as litter and in the landfills which are costly to operate and nearing capacity.

Banks was joined in her presentation by Murray Etty and Anna Kubacki.

The three spoke to council to ask that councillors consider designating Campbell River a Blue Community.

The Blue Communities project is a joint initiative between the Council of Canadians and the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

Blue Communities are based on the principle that access to clean, safe water is a human right.

Burnaby became the first Blue Community in Canada in 2011 and on the Island there are now four Blue Communities – Victoria, Nanaimo, Cumberland and Comox.

Municipalities can become Blue Communities by endorsing three resolutions: recognizing water as a human right; promoting publicly financed, owned and operated water and wastewater systems; and banning the sale of bottled water in public facilities and at municipal events.

Etty said the resolutions mean all Canadians should have access to affordable, safe water, that is owned by the public and not privatized through public-private partnerships or contracted out.

“This will ensure everyone is entitled to a sufficient amount of safe, clean drinking water and water for sanitation,” Etty said. “It safeguards against a pricing scheme that would limit access to water.”

Etty said the group’s goal is to move the federal government to establish a national water policy with national standards for affordable, clean, drinkable water.

There are currently 14 Blue Communities across Canada, with six of those in B.C.

Campbell River council received the Council of Canadians’ presentation but did not make a move toward designating the city a Blue Community.

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