VANCOUVER—World Water Day celebrations kicked off a day early Sunday with a tap water toast, local roots band Headwater and MC Charlie Demers presenting the first annual Tappie and Crappy awards.
CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill set the stage for the awards at Grandview Park in East Vancouver – reflecting on the successful campaign to keep the Seymour Filtration Plant public in the face of a proposed public private partnership (P3) and a variety of trade deals that threaten our democratic control of water resources and services.
Metro Vancouver was awarded the first Tappie in recognition of the Seymour Capilano Water Filtration Centre and the region’s tap water campaign. It was fitting that Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan accepted the award given his dogged commitment to keep the filtration centre out of private hands and for heeding residents’ demands for public oversight of the water system. In accepting the award, Corrigan said that we should all be proud that the plant is now producing the cleanest water in the world.
New Westminster school trustee Lori Watt accepted the second Tappie on behalf of the New Westminster Board of Education, which unanimously passed a resolution to ban bottled water in schools and to develop public-water focused curricula. The motion, brought forward by trustee Watt, directs staff to stop providing bottled water at events hosted by School District 40, phase out contracts for bottled water companies, and report on the status of water fountains in schools. Watt said that since passing the motion, Nestle Canada had been working to undermine the initiative with the board and in the media. This has not changed either Watt or the board’s commitment – and Watt said she is very proud of the educational component which will promote the use of municipal tap water.
The third Tappie went to the Whistler Water Watch Coalition in recognition of its successful fight to keep Whistler’s wastewater system public. Council of Canadians board member Bob Ages accepted on behalf of the coalition, which included the Council of Canadians, CUPE, community groups, seniors groups and local environmentalists. Along with world class public wastewater treatment, Whistler has cutting edge resource recovery technology. Ages also talked about the struggle to protect the Fish Lake watershed in the Interior.
The Crappy Awards went to: Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals for their continued promotion of public-private partnerships for water and wastewater services; Coca Cola, Nestle and Pepsi – the world’s largest bottled water companies for their continued promotion of environmentally destructive, exploitative and unnecessary products; and Prime Minister Stephen Harper for turning lakes into tailing ponds and refusing to even recognize water as a human right.