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WIN! Nestle-backed motion to end London bottled water ban fails, for now

The London Free Press reports this morning that, “A spirited water fight broke out at city hall Tuesday, but a three-year-old ban (on bottled water) that’s facing renewed criticism survived the battle, for now. …Sparked by beverage giant Nestle Waters’ request, councillors sparred at length over whether to recommend ending the ban.”

Opposing the ban was Ward 10 Council Paul Van Meerbergen, Councillor Stephen Orser and Mayor Joe Fontana. Supporting the ban was Ward 2 Councillor Bill Armstrong, Ward 12 Councillor Harold Usher, and Ward 7 Councillor Matt Brown. “As a tie, Van Meerbergen’s motion (to end the ban) lost.”

“The matter now goes to council for a final vote. The support may not be there to end the ban — and (Mayor Joe) Fontana says ‘it’s not one of my Top 10 priorities’.”

“When the ban was approved after much debate, in 2008, it drew national media attention to London, much of it positive. It was described by staff as a two-pronged advantage: environmentally, it could reduce the estimated 25% to 50% of single-use plastic beverage bottles that end up in trash, as opposed to blue boxes. And economically, staff estimated a person drinking eight glasses of tap water daily pays $1.88 in water and sewer costs annually. But that much bottled water bought at vending machines would cost more than $2,000. There was another point, too: contrary to the industry view that bottled water doesn’t compete with tap water, some councillors consider it a direct competitor. That point was reinforced Tuesday by Coun. Joni Baechler, who sat in on the Nestle official’s presentation to the community & neighbourhoods committee. ‘I don’t think representatives from Nestle sell Evian water in their corporate offices,’ she said. ‘We hear lots about running this city like a business. You don’t run a business by inviting a competitor’s product into your suite of products.'”

To read the Council of Canadians’ action alert opposing Nestle’s attempt to reverse the ban, please go to http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/making-waves/2011/02/nestle-trying-reverse-london%E2%80%99s-ban-sale-bottled-water-city-prope. The Council of Canadians also contacted its members in London and encouraged them to call their councillor and vote in favour of the ban. We will continue our efforts to ensure that we win the upcoming city council vote as well.

Our London chapter was instrumental in this ban and in the subsequent Federation of Canadian Municipalities decision against bottled water, http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=73 and http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=49.

The London Free Press article is at http://www.lfpress.com/news/london/2011/02/15/17290146.html. A CJBK report is at http://www.cjbk.com/LocalNews/Story.aspx?ID=1365080.