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With less than three weeks to go until the October 20 school board elections, the Halifax Regional School Board (HRSB) should delay its vote on phasing out bottled water in schools until after the election.

By doing so, they will give candidates an opportunity to campaign on this important environmental and social issue and voters a chance to express their own views to candidates. The Board is scheduled to vote on a staff recommendation at its September 26 meeting.

The ‘Turn on the Taps and Ditch the Bottle’ Coalition, which has been active on this issue for the last few years in Nova Scotia, believes a recent staff recommendation to “leave the decision up to individual schools” is a big cop-out on the part of Board Members.

We believe it’s time for the HRSB to show strong leadership on this issue and work to phase in a ban on bottled water in its schools and other facilities.

The Sept. 20 Chronicle Herald article, ‘Bottled water’s days may be drying up in Halifax area schools’ may have given readers the impression that the HRSB was finally tackling this issue. If they follow the current staff recommendation, they will simply be punting the issue further down the road.

The same staff report relies on figures provided by Nestle – one of the biggest bottled water companies in the world – on the number of bans that have actually taken place here in Canada.

Figures from the Polaris Institute in Ottawa show that 24 post-secondary campuses have committed to phasing-out bottled water; 11 school boards have passed resolutions to curb the sales and purchase of bottled water (6 have committed to complete phase-outs/bans); and 86 municipalities have passed resolutions to curb the sales and purchase of bottled water.

For the sake of the high school students who worked hard to get this issue before the Board, they should allow newly-elected members to make this important decision after this year’s elections.

The ‘Turn on the Taps’ coalition is made up of the following organizations: Ecology Action Centre, CUPE Nova Scotia, The Council of Canadians, KAIROS Halifax, Polaris Institute, Canadian Federation of Students – Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Environmental Network, Oxfam Canada: Maritimes, and Engaged Youth for Environmental Sustainability (EYES).