News

Tide sweeps away bottles?

IRWIN LOY, 24 HOURS

A decision by the largest Canadian city yet to ban bottled water could see a tide of other cities making the same move, says a city councillor leading the push to get rid of bottles here in Vancouver.

Citing environmental concerns and a need to promote city tap water, the city council in London, Ont., voted this week to ban bottled water from its properties.

"I think this is going to continue right across the country," said Vancouver Coun. Tim Stevenson.

Staff at the City of Vancouver have also been looking at ways of eliminating the sale of bottled water and increasing the number of drinking fountains around the city.

While London's ban will extend to city property including parks and golf courses, Vancouver's parks board will have to decide on its own whether to go so far. But Stevenson says the writing is on the wall.

"I think the water-bottle companies have had a really good run for a number of years now, but people are waking to the fact that bottles are totally unnecessary," he said.

But one industry rep says a ban in Vancouver would be political "green washing."

"It's quite frankly environmental symbolism and it doesn't result in meaningful progress in terms of the environment or health," said John Challinor, director of corporate affairs for Nestle Waters Canada, which holds a 35-per-cent share in the Canadian bottled water market.

Seven Canadian municipalities, including Nelson, B.C., have put in some kind of water-bottle ban so far. The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school board has also tossed around the idea.