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Sendzik revisits plastic water bottle ban in city facilities

Sendzik revisits plastic water bottle ban in city facilities

Sendzik revisits plastic water bottle ban in city facilities

Feb 07, 2018 by Melinda Cheevers  – Niagara this Week – St. Catharines

Despite multiple motions passed by previous councils in St. Catharines looking to ban plastic bottled water in all municipally owned and operated facilities, an actual ban has yet to be implemented.

Mayor Walter Sendzik is hoping to finally change that with a motion he put forward at the Jan. 29 meeting of council. Referencing the bans approved by councils of the day in 2007, 2011, and 2012, he again asked for St. Catharines to ban the sale of plastic bottled water in municipal facilities, effective immediately. The goal behind the banning was to reduce waste while promoting municipal drinking water as a safe, convenient and affordable alternative.

Reusable water bottle refill stations have become normal practice when it comes to drinking water infrastructure in city facilities, the motion points out, as funding and redevelopment opportunities are available.

At Coun. Mat Siscoe’s suggestion, the matter was referred back to staff with a short timeline for it to return to council.

“We need a plan for how to implement this,” he said. “Specifically the infrastructure we’re going to need at some facilities because we are going to need refill stations in facilities that don’t currently have them and an education campaign.”

Siscoe said council has tried to go down this path a few times, only they’ve done it without a plan and as a result, it hasn’t been a success.

“My hope is that this can come back in short order and we can discuss an implementation plan as opposed to passing without a plan,” he said.

Sendzik agreed, saying a plan will help them accomplish something that has taken ‘way too long.’

Council supported the referral and the matter is expected to come back before council during the March 5 meeting.

The second part of Sendzik’s motion, which was approved at the Jan. 29 meeting, called for staff to prepare a comprehensive plan to fully implement a ban on all plastic bottles in city owned and operated facilities, with direction to incorporate best practices in Ontario municipalities.

Sendzik said the City of Niagara Falls banned all plastic bottles from its municipal facilities in 2009, introducing pop refilling stations in place of bottles.

“They’ve done a much better job and they’ve been banned since 2009, so we’re behind on this one.”

St. Catharines’ director of parks, recreation and culture services Phil Cristi said the previously approved motions all predate his tenure with the city. He joined the corporation as the manager of recreation and culture services in 2013.

“I’m really not sure why this didn’t happen then,” he said, adding that the goal is to make it happen now. A staff working group has been put together to see how the implementation of the water bottle ban will happen, address the current inventory on hand, and how to best educate the public about the ban.

Going forward, he said they’ll also have to meet with current vendors operating out of municipal facilities and negotiate within the existing contracts how to best move forward and in the longer term, look at implementing the total ban on plastic bottles.

“That one will take a while because there’s a lot we’ll need to consider,” he said. “Whatever packaging we put in place, we need to make sure it’s a viable alternative.”

To help with that, he said they’ll be looking to other municipalities and schools who have implemented similar bans to see where they’ve found success and what the challenges have been.

“We can learn from those who have done this already,” he said.