Halifax Regional Council has approved a staff report that recommends phasing out the purchase of bottled water at HRM facilities, along with increasing access to public drinking water and providing canteens and filling stations for operational and emergency staff.
Recreational and community-run facilities as well as vending machines were excluded from the phase-out – something groups supporting the ban hope to see happen in the future.
"Nova Scotia has committed to phasing out the sale and provision of bottled water in provincial facilities, and more recently the United Nations passed a resolution recognizing water as a human right," says Angela Giles of The Council of Canadians. "The Turn on the Taps, Ditch the Bottle coalition congratulates the HRM Council on this important step forward and we look forward to seeing the HRM work towards a more comprehensive ban once bottled water is phased out in HRM facilities."
In 2009 Council voted to restrict the purchase and sale of bottled water at City Hall and directed staff to look at extending the restriction to other facilities. This report was presented yesterday. Over the past year, city staff tested water quality in various HRM facilities and found there is no major work required to ensure access to clean, free drinking to city staff and the general public.
CUPE Nova Scotia President Danny Cavanagh says, "Kudos to the members of HRM council for taking this important step forward. In Canada, municipal water systems are among the safest and cleanest in the world. There simply is no justification for using bottled water where city water is available."
"We believe the choice is clear – bottled water is less regulated and dramatically more expensive than tap water. It's bad for the environment and for our health," said Rebecca Rose, Maritimes Organizer for the Canadian Federation of Students. "From the work we've done on this issue in HRM, it's clear more and more people are going back to the tap and want their city to do the same."
The Turn on the Taps, Ditch the Bottle Coalition has been working together in Nova Scotia since 2008, with a goal of promoting the phase out of the sale and provision of bottled water in government facilities.