Jamie Linton, Steve Garrison, Maude Barlow and Sid Ryan came to speak at Dunning Auditorium at Queen's University this past Tuesday, January 20, 2009. They came to tackle the issue of Bottled water, as an environmental concern, but more importantly their concern over privatization of water.
Jamie Linton discussed tackling the issue of bottled water within a Queen's context. He brought up ideas that currently exist at other educational institutes, such as 'bottled water free zones' or even the banning of bottled water sales throughout the university. This is a pertinent issue with the student referendum close approaching, asking students if they agree with the re-signing of an exclusive contract with Coca-Cola. He wished to encourage the alternative of personal and reusable water-bottles, as well as the use of water fountains around the campus. Queen's Student members of STRIVE, followed Mr. Linton, and showed their research of water fountain quality on campus. This research they brought to the Psychical Plant services at queen's in hopes of raising the quality and most importantly usage of these free water stations.
City councillor Steve Garrison spoke second on the newly passed city council bill that involves the reduction of sales of bottled water in public buildings. However, he strives to see a band of sales of bottled water within all municipal building. His point is that we need to encourage our municipally funded water source, and that it speaks ill of this public institution if government building are choosing to sell bottled water, as an alternative to tap water.
Maude Barlow was the third to speak. She sets backdrop of our milieu; our water issue as part of a global crisis. However, her focus was from an 'at home' standpoint, asking citizens to act as individuals for creating change. While environmental issues are an important reason to stop drinking water-bottles (with 650 million bottles dumped into landfills and not recycled annually), her main reason to fight is to keep water as a public service. If water bottles fill our demand, people will not be demanding clean water from the municipalities, and will not want to pay taxes for a service they do not use.
Sid Ryan continued this debate saying if we continue to privatize our public services we will end up with a “poorer system for poor people”. As poor and isolated communities in Canada already experience travesties regarding water treatment, we need to focus on improving the system that we already have and discouraging the wasteful and expensive consumption of our precious bottled resource. It costs 1/8th of a cent to drink 1Ltr of water from at tap, compared to the astronomical price for it to be bottled; for bottled water that has a lower standard of quality