Regional district board balks on banning bottled water

NANAIMO – A request for the Regional District of Nanaimo to become a blue community last week got half-hearted support from directors.

A request for the Regional District of Nanaimo to become a blue community last week got half-hearted support from directors.

Directors opted to fulfill only one of the three requirements needed to get the designation.

The request called for the district to declare access to clean water as a human right, to support public ownership of water facilities and to ban the sale of bottled water at RDN facilities and events.

Carol Mason, chief administrative officer, said the recognition of water as a human right is not within the purvew of the RDN’s mandate, suggesting it would be more appropriate for the federal government to do so.

She added the RDN already supports public ownership of water utilities.

Those two aspects received no dissent from the board, but banning bottled water sparked debate.

Mason said the board has a policy of supporting healthy food choices at its facilities and has included bottled water as a healthier alternative to pop and other carbonated and sugary beverages.

But Nanaimo Coun. Bill Bestwick said it’s strange the district opts to sell something that comes out of the tap for free.

“We have tap water,” he said. “It’s a healthy choice and it’s free.”

Nanaimo Mayor John Ruttan agreed.

“We are not ready for this in many areas,” he said. “I can’t support a ban on bottled water until there is a full debate in the communities and the local council.”

The motion against a ban passed.