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LETTER: Nanaimo shouldn’t rescind blue community motion

Paul Manly

On March 26, the Council of Canadians, Vancouver Island Water Water, CUPE Local 410 and the Island Glass Artisans presented to Nanaimo city council the ‘blue community’ resolution recognizing water as a human right; promoting publicly financed, owned and operated water and wastewater services; and banning the sale of bottled water in public facilities and at municipal events. While city council initially adopted this resolution, it later reversed its decision on May 14.

Paul Manly of the Mid-Island Nanaimo chapter of the Council of Canadians writes in The Daily News, “It’s astonishing to hear councillors say they voted on a motion without realizing they were voting on a motion. I’m surprised to find out that members of Nanaimo city council now need to seek a staff report on the implications of passing a motion that ‘recognizes and affirms that access to clean water is a fundamental human right’. This UN declaration passed on July 28, 2010, with 122 votes in favour, no opposing votes and 41 abstentions, unfortunately, including Canada. It’s a motherhood issue.”

He adds, “The City of Nanaimo already provides safe and clean drinking water. We pay a user fee for water but it is not based on a profit motive and this resolution will not stop the city from continuing to charge a reasonable fee to help cover the cost of infrastructure. Capitalists who want to profit by selling bottled tap water to people who think that it’s better will still be able to do so.”

“The city has passed other resolutions that reaffirm UN declarations. This year, Nanaimo proclaimed March 21 as Nanaimo’s day in recognition of the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Did city council seek a staff report on the implications of this declaration before it was passed? I hope we do not see that motion rescinded by council because I would hate to think that someone suffering and dying from dysentery, cholera or other water-borne diseases would have to face the added insult of racial discrimination. In the meantime, we can continue to ignore the fact that they got these diseases based on their economic situation, social status or place of birth. For a tiny fraction of the world’s military budget we could provide safe drinking water for every person on the planet.”

On June 11 at 7 pm, CUPE British Columbia president Barry O’Neill will be presenting to Nanaimo City Council calling on them to support the blue community initiative. Council of Canadians members in the Nanaimo area are encouraged to help fill the Council chambers that evening.

To read Paul Manly’s letter, go to http://www.canada.com/Nanaimo+shouldn+rescind+water+motion/6657518/story.html. For more on Nanaimo reversing its decision to become a blue community, go to http://canadians.org/blog/?p=15109 and http://canadians.org/blog/?p=14514. For more on the Blue Communities Project, go to http://canadians.org/bluecommunities.

The Council of Canadians will hold its annual general meeting in Nanaimo this coming October 26-28.