Should Surrey phase out bottled water?
Laurie Larsen, president of CUPE 402 and a Surrey school trustee, thinks so.
"It's about trying to get the city more aware and to educate people more of how important it is not to buy into the philosophy that you have to buy bottled water. You really should be using reusable bottles," Larsen said.
Larsen presented Surrey city council with a declaration on Sept. 12 that she hopes it will adapt and adopt.
The declaration asks the city to phase out city use of bottled water and the availability of bottled water in city facilities, and promote the importance of city water.
It also asks that wherever possible and appropriate, the city encourage the installation of accessible drinking fountains in new and refurbished buildings, as well as new and refurbished parks and other public spaces.
Other cities that have said 'no' to bottled water include Burnaby and New Westminster.
Larsen said the information presented to council came from the "Unbottle It!" campaign, a CUPE and Council of Canadians initiative.
The presentation included five reasons to ban bottled water: Bottled water leads to water shortages; bottled water contributes to climate change because of the fossil fuels burned to transport the water; landfills cannot support bottled water because many of the single-use bottles are nonrecyclable; bottled water is not safer than tap water; and finally, water is a human right as recognized by the United Nations in 2010.
Larsen said we sell a tremendous amount of water and we sell it as a commodity.
"There are countries that are selling water, when the people in the country don't even have fresh, clean water. Yet, they're selling water to people like us - who could just turn on a tap for water.
"It's trying to get people to recognize that water is not a commodity - it's a human right."
Councillor Linda Hepner, who is also vice-chair of Metro Vancouver's environment and energy committee, said she could see the city phasing out bottled water within its corporate operations.
"And those would be significant because that would be within all of our recreation centres as well," Hepner said. "That is something that can be done easily and I think it should be done. In fact, I believe that we're already doing that in most cases."
Hepner said another way the region could aid in the fight against bottled water is by spreading awareness.
"I think there's something to be said about the utilization of our city page, to remind people that our water is the best in the world," Hepner said.
"That kind of thing is easy to do and we could do that in some of the various booklets and things that the city produces."
She said the city could use its leisure guides to promote tap water.
"We could utilize space in there to describe why we think it's important to do this and what it means to our landfill and what the cost is to each and every one of us if we don't do it."
She said the city participates in the bigger picture at the regional level. Metro Vancouver has a Tap Water Campaign, promoting that the region has some of the best water in the world and people should be drinking it.
"Quite frankly, we should all be drinking the tap water. It's great water and I'm supportive of anything we can do to get less plastic in the landfill," Hepner said.
"I think the broader accessibility question is how do you convince people to carry something with them, rather then pop in the store and grab a bottle off the shelf?"