City hall frowns on bottled water

City of Vernon staff won’t be disciplined if they reach for bottled water to quench their thirst.

On Monday, council adopted a policy that discontinues the use of plastic water bottles at all city operations where ever possible.

“This isn’t some sort of draconian legislation,” said Brooke Marshall, environmental planner, adding that the goal is to emphasize water options that exist.

Staff will be encouraged to abandon plastic water bottles, but there won’t be any enforcement.

“Nobody will be written fines for walking around with a bottle of water,” said Leon Gous, chief administrative officer.

Coun. Bob Spiers questioned the practicality of the policy.

“Will the fire hall and the police department be allowed to have plastic, or how about in our (staff) vehicles?” he said.

“Should we talk about plastic Coke bottles and plastic electrolyte bottles?”

Besides Spiers, opposition to the policy came from Coun. Patrick Nicol.

“People have a choice. If you don’t want to drink it, you don’t have to drink it. It’s a legitimate business,” Nicol said of bottled water.

Coun. Buffy Baumbrough says there is a reason why plastic water bottles were specified.

“There is an alternative to water bottles,” she said referring to tap water.

“The alternative is safe and we have put a significant investment into infrastructure to ensure our water is safe.”

Coun. Mary-Jo O’Keefe defends the policy.

“By instituting this, we aren’t limiting people’s ability to buy bottled water. But it’s important to heighten other choices,” she said.

“There was a shortage of water in Vernon last year and people have to be aware of their consumption and stewardship.”

The city will ask the North Okanagan Regional District to consider discontinuation of water bottles at its operations.

But Baumbrough says the city can’t demand that NORD remove bottles from Wesbild Centre, the Performing Arts Centre or the recreation complex.

“The regional district will make its own decision,” she said.

Council will also consider the installation of water fountains in Vernon so residents can refill reusable water containers.