Parksville urged to be a little more blue

Blue communities recognize water as a human right, says the PRA’s Charna Macfie

Parksville may already be on the way to becoming a certified Blue Community.

The Council of Canadians and Canadian Union of Public Employees honoured Burnaby as the first blue community in the country last year and since then many others, including Victoria and Port Alberni, have joined.

In light of March 22 being World Water Day, Charna Macfie, president of the Parksville Residents Association gave a presentation to city council urging them to join the national initiative.

“A blue community is one that adopts a water commons framework by taking three actions,” said Macfie, presenting on behalf of the Vancouver Island Water Watch Coalition, Council of Canadians Mid Island Chapter, CUPE Local 401, Oceanside Coalition for Strong Communities, KAIROS and the Arrowsmith Watershed Coalition Society.

Blue communities formally recognize water as a human right, promote public ownership and operation of water and waste-water services, and ban the sale of bottled water in public facilities and at municipal events.

“As far as I’m concerned you’re preaching to the choir,” started Councillor Marc Lefebvre, suggesting the city already informally tries to do the first two and he thought the city already had a bylaw or policy restricting bottled water.

Chief Administrative officer Fred Manson said there isn’t currently such a bylaw but staff could look into one but he thought the big issue would be enforcement.

“Since I’ve been on council we’ve always supported public ownership,” said Coun. Sue Powell, who as deputy mayor for the first half of the year was chairing the meeting in the mayor’s absence.

She also said she was surprised there wasn’t already a bottled water ban.

“We do recognize water as a human right,” said Coun. Carrie Powell-Davidson who questioned whether an outright ban was required or if the wording could be changed to “discouraging” bottled water, suggesting council is trying to find a balance and not over-regulate people.

Macfie said at least one other community has signed on without a complete bottled water ban but that it would take a ban to follow the full spirit of the initiative.

Council unanimously asked staff to research the three suggested motions and bring options back for their consideration.