In an historic vote last week by Victoria City Council, the capital of British Columbia became Canada’s second Blue Community. The Council of Canadians and the Canadian Union of Public Employees presented the City with a certificate which officially recognizes Blue Community status for Victoria.
“City councilors faced a lot of pressure from the multinational corporations that make huge profits from bottled water,” said Diane Kalen-Sukra, water campaigner with CUPE. “But council recognized the strong support in the community for this initiative and did the right thing.”
In order to become a Blue Community, a municipality must agree to protect water in three important ways. First, it must pass a resolution banning the sale of bottled water in public facilities and at municipal events. Second, the municipality officially recognizes water as a human right. Finally, a Blue Community commits to publicly financed, owned and operated water and wastewater services.
Victoria is the second Canadian municipality to declare itself a Blue Community. On March 22, Burnaby, B.C.’s third largest city, became the first Blue Community in Canada.
“The pressures on provincial water supplies from mining, bottled water companies and firms looking to privatize drinking water and sanitation are enormous,” says Harjap Grewal, B.C./Yukon regional organizer with the Council of Canadians. ”We need communities, through their municipal governments, to take a stand and state clearly their water is not for sale. It’s our common right and responsibility.”
The award to the City of Victoria was signed by Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow and CUPE President Paul Moist. It says a Blue Community “is one that treats water as belonging to no one, and the responsibility of all. Because water is central to human activity, it must be governed by principles that allow for reasonable use, equal distribution and responsible treatment in order to preserve water for nature and future generations. The Council of Canadians and the Canadian Union of Public Employees congratulate the City of Victoria on this important achievement.”
- More information about the Blue Communities Project: www.canadians.org/bluecommunities
Elected officials, organizations, and individuals interested in making their municipality a Blue Community can download the guide here.