Vancouver's bottled water ban sets stage for more drinking fountains
Vancouver City Council will be debating a staff report coming to the budget committee next week that is seeking approval to spend up to $50,000 to implement a new bottled water ban in the city. This is in addition to a potential $841,300 dollars in lost revenue if the policy becomes fully operational. Staff are asking the Police Board, Park Board, Library Board and PNE Board to also fully implement the ban.
Despite the hefty price tag, the staff report states:
City use of bottled water represents a small fraction of the current market; eliminating its availability is unlikely to have significant direct effects on solid waste and greenhouse gas production.
Vision Councillor Tim Stevenson has been one of the strongest advocates for the banning of bottled water in the city. Stevenson is the Chair of the Metro Vancouver water committee which recently saw massive cost overruns on their Seymour-Capilano water filtration infrastructure project.
Some city-owned facilities could be impacted more than others. Take for example the City's civic theatres. Staff indicate that:
Phasing out the sale of bottled water will likely result in a decrease in revenue and have a negative impact on Civic Theatres budgets.
As for the Carnegie Centre:
The elimination of bottled water sales at Carnegie Centre represents a loss of revenue of approximately $4300 each year, which may require an offsetting budget increase in 2010 and forward.
The ban will be impacting City Councillors as well. City staff note that within one year they will have to spend up to $15,000 and:
Stop contracted provision of 18L bottled water coolers at civic facilities (CityLearn
Centre, Councillor's office) and provide appropriate access to tap water
The ban could also have a big impact on the Park Board's budget which only a week ago was cut severely by Council:
Currently the net annual revenue generated by the sale of bottled water is approximately $149,800. Eliminating the sale of bottled water would dramatically reduce this revenue stream although some patrons would purchase a less healthy beverage. Additionally there could be an annual reduction in sponsorship monies from Coca Cola as the amount of their total sales is expected to drop as the result of eliminating bottled water. This reduction is estimated at $100,400. The impact on the Park Board annual operating budget could therefore be a loss of revenue totalling up to $250,000.
Here is a summary of the potential lost revenue:
- PNE $475,000
- Park Board Facilities $250,000
- Civic Theatres $109,000
- Carnegie Centre $4,300
- Gathering Place $3,000
Staff indicate that the total lost revenue may not be as high as projected if people choose to switch over to other beverage options such as sugar-based carbonated drinks.