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Nanaimo becomes a blue community, in lead-up to Making Waves conference

Nanaimo – Yesterday, June Ross and Paul Manly of the Mid Island chapter of the Council of Canadians presented a ‘Blue Community’ certificate to Nanaimo mayor John Ruttan. Nanaimo will now be the first Blue Community to host the Council’s annual conference, set to take place in the city on October 26-27.

To become a Blue Community, a municipality must recognize water as a human right, ban the sale of bottled water in public facilities and at municipal events, and commit to promoting publicly financed, owned and operated water and wastewater services.

“The Mid Island chapter of the Council of Canadians and our allies campaigned tirelessly to win this designation,” said Emma Lui, water campaigner with the Council of Canadians, who noted their efforts included overcoming opposition from Nestle Waters Canada. “Nanaimo has listened to public calls to protect water from commoditization and privatization.”

The Council’s upcoming conference, Making Waves: Sinking the Harper Agenda, will feature high profile keynote speakers, including Maude Barlow, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Linda McQuaig, Bill McKibben, Chief Douglas White and a welcome by a Snuneymuxw elder. Making Waves will begin exactly seven months after the Council of Canadians, Vancouver Island Water Watch, CUPE Local 401 and the Island Glass Artisans first approached Nanaimo city council to make the request that the city become a Blue Community. 

“Council of Canadians Mid Island Chapter members were also present to show support during the presentation of the Blue Community certificate,” said Manly. “We are very pleased that the majority of Councillors voted in favour of all of the resolutions. Our hats are off to those who listened.”

Along with the certificate, the chapter presented city councillors with stainless steel water bottles (provided by Vancouver Island Water Watch and CUPE Local 401) with the logo, ‘Proud to be a Blue Community’. The chapter told councillors that they should consider purchasing such bottles to sell at all their venues to go along with the water fill up stations – and that they would make a great tourist item.

When the chapter presented the water bottles, Manly told the mayor and council that “the next 10,000 refills are free.”

“The pressures on provincial water supplies from mining, bottled water companies and firms looking to privatize drinking water and sanitation are enormous,” says Harjap Grewal, B.C./Yukon regional organizer with the Council of Canadians. “We need communities, through their municipal governments, to take a stand and state clearly their water is not for sale. It’s our common right and responsibility.”

Nanaimo joins Victoria, Burnaby, Cumberland, North Vancouver and many other municipalities from coast to coast that have also become Blue Communities.

Background on the story of the campaign for Nanaimo to become a Blue Community is available here. Elected officials, organizations, and individuals interested in making their municipality a Blue Community should visit for more information.