Last night (March 21), the Council of Canadians and the Canadian Union of Public Employees presented a certificate to the City of Burnaby, the third largest city in British Columbia, for becoming the first Blue Community in Canada. A municipality can become a Blue Community by: 1) recognizing water as a human right; 2) promoting publicly financed, owned and operated water and wastewater services; and 3) banning the sale of bottled water in public facilities and at municipal events. Burnaby, located just east of Vancouver, has now adopted resolutions affirming these three criteria. Council of Canadians British Columbia-Yukon regional organizer Harjap Grewal says, "This is a real victory for water in Burnaby, and is a result of many dedicated people getting organized for water justice in their community." National water campaigner Emma Lui says, "The City of Burnaby has demonstrated real leadership on water in Canada, and we’re hopeful we will start to see Blue Communities from coast to coast."
The certificate to the City of Burnaby, signed by Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow and CUPE President Paul Moist notes that a Blue Community “is one that treats water as belonging to no one, and the responsibility of all. Because water is central to human activity, it must be governed by principles that allow for reasonable use, equal distribution and responsible treatment in order to preserve water for nature and future generations. The Council of Canadians and the Canadian Union of Public Employees congratulate the City of Burnaby on this important achievement.” Drinking water and waste water resolution approved unanimously by Burnaby City Council: WHERAS public health depends on equitable access to clean water supplies; and WHERAS public ownership and operation of drinking water and wastewater treatment systems have improved access and quality over the past century; and WHERAS evidence indicates that public operation of water services is: • Cost effective and efficient when compared to private sector operation • Transparent and accountable to the public and users • Flexible and responsive to changing technology, priorities and community needs THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the City of Burnaby supports public and non-profit ownership and operation of water and wastewater treatment services in our community; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Council lobby the federal government to fulfill its responsibility to support municipal infrastructure by investing in a national water infrastructure fund that would address the growing need to renew existing water and wastewater infrastructure and build new systems; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Council forward this resolution to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities for circulation to all of its members. Burnaby becoming a Blue Community was reported in the Vancouver Province, http://www.theprovince.com/Burnaby+gets+World+Water/4486590/story.html, the Vancouver Sun, http://www.vancouversun.com/Burnaby+named+Canada+first+Blue+Community+preserving+water/4484661/story.html, Burnaby Now, http://www.burnabynow.com/Burnaby+taps+into+Blue+Community+status/4485288/story.html, and the Burnaby News Leader, http://www.bclocalnews.com/news/118470249.html. You can read more about the Blue Communities Project at www.canadians.org/bluecommunities.