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Big Blue Success – Guest post by Diane Connors + the Prince Albert chapter

There was a great victory for the Prince Albert Chapter of the Council of Canadians about a week before World Water Day. On March 13, Prince Albert city council approved 2 out of 3 of the Blue Communities Resolutions: to recognize water as a human right, and promote publically owned and financed water. It has been a long effort over many years of trying to get these resolutions passed, and we thought their story of success could advise and inspire other chapters looking to turn their cities and towns into Blue Communities.

We asked Nancy Carswell and Rick Sawa of the Prince Albert chapter some questions about the campaign:

What made you decide to begin pursuing getting the Blue Community resolutions passed at your municipal council?

The Blue Communities project was a priority of the Council of Canadians at the time (it was started in 2011, which is when we began the process), and the Chapter totally agreed with the 3 resolutions.

What were some of the challenges the chapter came up against in getting to success?

Because we bundled the three actions together, we had to address all three each time with only 5 minutes to present. The motion would be shelved. Thankfully this year a new young councilor picked up the two and made a motion. The motion passed at the executive level and then it passed unanimously at the full council meeting March 27.

What challenges still exist and what’s your plan for continuing to push?

The challenge is banning bottled water, and we are planning on fundraising to acquire a water trailer for the city. We hope this will solve the problem of banning water at municipal events. If the city rents out the trailer, that money can be used to install fountains and refill stations in public facilities. We have another councilor who has been urging the city to install these.

What was the chapter’s motivation or inspiration to persevere?

Although buying bottled water is an individual choice, we all pay for it environmentally. Also, if water is privatized, we cannot make democratic decisions about its use.

What were some surprises along the way that helped or proved challenging?

Again, we were confident that it was banning bottled water that was the obstacle, but had to present all three resolutions at the same time. With two out of three passed, we can really focus on banning bottled water now.

How do you see your success impacting your community in tangible ways?

I received many comments from colleagues and friends that they want water kept public.

What was the most helpful thing in keeping up the pressure?

It was fun and challenging!

What advice would you give other chapters and communities looking to become a blue community?

I was caught off guard when a colleague asked what I wanted people to do. It never occurred to me to ask people to vote with their dollar and stop buying bottled water. If they do stop buying bottled water, I would encourage them to tell their councilor and their friends.

— By Diane Connors