The organization representing Canada’s municipal governments has taken a strong stand for public tap water.
Over the weekend, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ board of directors passed a resolution urging Canadian cities and towns to choose tap water over bottled water.
The resolution calls on municipalities to “phase out the sale and purchase of bottled water at their own facilities where appropriate and where potable water is available”.
FCM President Jean Perrault called bottled water “a product that produces more waste, costs more and uses more energy than simple, dependable municipal tap water.”
The FCM resolution shows the momentum that’s building to take back the tap across the country. CUPE is working closely on local and regional campaigns with the Polaris Institute and the Council of Canadians to encourage municipalities, school boards and other local bodies to choose public water over bottled hype.
In Nova Scotia, CUPE and other groups are encouraging municipalities to “take the plunge” in favour of tap water. The CUPE Ontario-Council of Canadians “Unbottle it!” tour brought a pro-tap message to 15 Ontario communities in January, and continues in Northern Ontario this April.
Upcoming World Water Day activities will see activists toast public water, pledge their support for tap water, and press local governments to stop buying or offering bottled water in their facilities or at functions they sponsor.
At the same time, CUPE is working with its allies to protect and expand access to public water. In some buildings, drinking fountains haven’t been fixed or maintained – and new buildings are being designed without fountains. The situation is especially dire on campuses, where beverage exclusivity contracts leave corporations with a stranglehold on thirsty students and staff.
At least one provincial government is also looking at capping its bottled water use. PEI premier Robert Ghiz says his government is “seriously discussing” a ban on bottled water in government facilities – a discussion spurred by a recent visit from Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow.
The cities of Toronto and London brought forward the FCM resolution, on the heels of the Unbottle it! tour. Both cities have voted to phase out the sale and use bottled water.