Maryanne Firth / The Tribune
The lakeside city is taking steps toward becoming a Blue Community.
Following a June presentation by 13-year-old environmental activist Robyn Hamlyn, Port Colborne council this week committed to her cause.
The Kingston resident, who has visited more than a dozen municipal councils across Ontario, has been sharing a plan to fight what she calls an impending fresh water shortage.
She’s been asking municipalities to join a growing list of Blue Communities — a project launched by the Council of Canadians — by recognizing water as a human right; promoting publicly financed, owned and operated water and wastewater services; and banning the sale of bottled water in public facilities and at municipal events.
On Monday, Port Colborne council committed support to recognizing water as a human right and to promoting the supply of public drinking water by primarily government entities. Council also called on the federal government to fulfil its responsibility to support municipal infrastructure by investing in a national water infrastructure fund that would address the growing need to renew existing water and sewer infrastructure and build new systems.
Though Port Colborne has not banned the sale of bottled water at public facilities and municipal events as requested, the city has committed to providing easy access to municipal tap water whenever possible.
“I support this. It makes good common sense,” said Ward 2 Coun. Angie Desmarais, who was a big fan of Hamlyn’s presentation.
To further assist the cause, she asked that Port Colborne’s environmental advisory committee, of which she is a part, look into methods to divert from landfills all plastic water bottles handed out by the city at the upcoming Canal Days Marine Heritage Festival.
The festival’s volunteer committee, which Desmarais chairs, is looking into getting reusable bottles for volunteers as a “thank you” gift.
Mayor Vance Badawey said the city, for future events, will explore new ways to provide water, such as water filling stations.
To learn more about the Blue Communities Project, visit www.canadians.org/water/issues/Blue_Communities.