Saanich considers ban on plastic water bottles at rec centres
By Kyle Slavin – Saanich News
Saanich recreation centres could soon be BYOB — bring your own bottle.
Two of Saanich’s advisory committees are exploring the idea of banning the sale of plastic water bottles in all municipal buildings.
“We’re looking at the ways in which it is possible to eliminate the sale of bottled water in our facilities, but still offer healthy options,” said Coun. Dean Murdock, who co-chairs the environmental advisory committee. “We’re putting ourselves at a competitive disadvantage by selling a product that doesn’t use tap water.”
Both the environmental and the parks, trails and recreation advisory committees meet this week to look at the possibility of a ban.
Coun. Paul Gerrard, who chairs the parks, trails and recreation committee, said the removal of plastic water bottles is a logical progression for the municipality.
“We’ve introduced healthier food choices in all our rec centres, so this, I think, is a natural follow up of that trend,” he said. “I think the public would welcome the fact we are doing something to reduce that element of waste, when we have an abundant supply of water that’s healthy, safe and convenient.”
But John Challinor, director of corporate affairs for Nestlé Waters Canada, says it’s not the municipality’s place to decide what people should be able to drink at recreation centres.
“The public has the right to choose the beverage of their choice, wherever they may be,” Challinor said.
Instead of focussing their attention on banning water bottles, Challinor said council should launch an education campaign or expanded recycling system to ensure recyclables don’t end up in the trash.
“The vast majority of municipalities across the country believe that there are more important things to deal with. They’re not discussing or even thinking about bottled water – they’ve got more serious issues to deal with,” he said.
Both Murdock and Gerrard believe banning plastic water bottles will help reduce the waste going to the Hartland landfill. About 4.5 tonnes of recyclable plastic bottles were thrown away there last year.
“That’s something that can be avoided. And we’ll make every effort to try and change that because these bottles are not waste but are being treated as such,” Murdock said.
NOTE: The Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC) recommended a ban on plastic drink containers at all Saanich facilities. This does not apply exclusively to bottled water. Further, the “competitive disadvantage” remarks relate to a discussion that took place at a Regional Water Supply Commission meeting and not within the context of the EAC’s recommendation