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More than 1.5 million people now live in ‘blue communities’ around the world

Barlow present blue community certificates in Bern, Sept. 2013.

Barlow present blue community certificates in Bern, Sept. 2013.

The Council of Canadians has been encouraging municipalities and other groupings across the country – and around the world – to become blue communities.

To be a blue community, a municipality must:

  1. Recognize water as a human right.

  2. Promote publicly financed, owned and operated water and wastewater services.

  3. Ban the sale of bottled water in public facilities and at municipal events.

On March 22, 2011, Burnaby, British Columbia became the first blue community in Canada. On September 18, 2013, Bern, Switzerland became the first international blue community. And on January 12, 2015, Tsal’alh, St’át’imc Territory became the first Indigenous blue community. The University of Bern (which has an enrollment of 17,428 students) and the Evangelisch-reformierte Kirchgemeinde Bern-Johannes Church have also become blue communities.

Barlow presents certificate to Garry John in recognition of Tsal’alhmec becoming a blue community, Feb. 2015.

When Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow presented the first blue community certificates in Europe, she stated, “In becoming Blue Communities, the City and University of Bern are showing leadership in Europe in asserting that water is a common heritage of humanity and of future generations as well as our own. You are committing to protect the waters of Switzerland as a human right, a public trust and a not-for-profit public service. You take pride in the quality of your public water and remind people of the ecological waste and unnecessary expense of bottled water. It is my fervent hope that your undertaking today will be the beginning of a European-wide movement that will one day reach across the whole world.”

The largest blue communities in this country are Burnaby (population 223,220), St. Catharines (131,990), Ajax, (109,600), Thunder Bay (108,359), and North Vancouver (84,412). All together, there are now 1,034,515 people in Canada who live in communities recognized as blue communities. Internationally, there are another 533,788 people in three cities (Bern, Zurich and Cambuquira, Brazil) recognized as blue communities. As such, there are now about 1,568,303 people in twenty-one municipalities around the world recognized as blue communities. The number is even larger when we include the University of Bern and Kirchgemeinde Johannes.

The Blue Communities Project is a joint initiative of the Council of Canadians and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

To learn more about our Blue Communities Project, and to see a complete listing of blue communities, please go to our campaign web-page here.

You can also read our Blue Communities Project Guide here.