Ban bottled water in city spaces urges advocate group

A group of water experts, students and former councillors is urging the City of Ottawa to ban bottled water in all its arenas and facilities.

The Ottawa Water Study Action Group (OWSAG) gathered at City Hall on Monday to both celebrate the quality of local drinking water and ask the city to get out of the plastic water bottle business.

"Ottawa tap water is terrific, it is much better than bottle water," said former city councillor Diane Holmes at the meeting.

Holmes says tap water is routinely tested for quality, unlike unregulated bottled water, but the city does little to promote the quality product available at the nearest sink.

"The city presently spends $95 million providing clean water and only $10,000 on the promotion of its own world-class water," said Holmes. "It's disgraceful."

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Group wants more water fountains installed

Last year Montreal's McGill university phased out plastic bottles on its campus and installed more water fountains.

That's the model the city should follow, said former city councillor Clive Doucet.

"Single-use plastics are a curse. We don't need them," said Doucet. "And they're really destructive to the environment."

Doucet says the city should either buy out the contract for vending machines or promise not to renew it when it expires.

"Plastics kill wildlife, they kill ocean mammals, and we can start the reduction by getting rid of them in public spaces."

The group said the Coca Cola vending machines will dispense up to 360,000 plastic bottles from their vending machines over the next two years.

The city said it is in a contract with Coca Cola that will run out when a minimum volume of sales is met and that could take another three years, depending on sales.

Steve Berry/CBC