Disposable Water Bottles in the City

I attended the Park Board meeting this past Monday out at the Trout Lake Community Centre, mostly to keep an ear to what’s going on, in my ongoing need to be more-well-informed about the issues confronting Park Board Commissioners, as well as what topics the public are thinking about. There were several topics of interest that I’ll post about later, but what really struck me was that each of the Commissioners (Spencer Herbert excepted) and all off the city staff had not 1, but 2 Dasani water bottles in front of them. There was a little bottle, and then the “normal”-sized disposable bottles – 500ml, I think?

It strikes me, on several counts, that having these bottles is inexcusable:

  1. Disposable water bottles are incredibly wasteful. At virtually every step of their lifecycle too, from the production of the plastic, to the shipping, to their use, to their disposal, small-sized water bottles are inefficient. If various school boards are considering banning the sale of water bottles (via Stepan Vdovine), shouldn’t the Park Board be lock-step with them on this?
  2. Two water bottles? Were both really necessary? When I left, I do believe that everyone was still on their first bottle. Hopefully, they keep and re-use any unopened ones, but what about bottles that are opened but barely touched? Those can’t be re-used later, for hygienic reasons. I’ll assume they’re being recycled and not thrown out, but still…
  3. The message it sends. Leah told me that when she worked for the GVRD they had a strict policy to not have or use private-water services in the office. If the GVRD won’t drink the city’s water, how they can expect everyone else to do so? I feel the Park Board and city staff have the same responsibility to use and promote the quality of Vancouver’s own water.

It seems, potentially, a small issue, but would it be that hard to pass a motion for the Park Board Commissioners, at the very least, to not use bottled water at meetings? If they can get set-up to be fully wired for sound at a community-outreach meeting, I’m sure someone can bring some pitchers of water as well. The next step is then to examine the use of water bottles in all city properties, and ideally, remove them from there as well. If the parks board has a deal with Coke, that may be problematic (much as the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school board is looking into), but surely, surely this can be done.

Should I be elected, I will work to eliminate disposable water bottles from the Parks board office & properties across Vancouver. In the interim, I’ll look into the City’s current stance on the use & sale of disposable water bottles on city property, to see what’s happened so far.

UPDATE: Councilor Tim Stephenson requested a memorandum about bottled water in the city back in October 2006 (jump to page 13, #5), so hopefully he’ll be able to help me out on this one.