Hamilton board of health approves ban on bottled water and sugary drink sales

Hamilton's board of health has voted to ban the sale of sugary drinks and bottled water in its arenas, rec centres and other facilities. But not everyone is convinced it will make people healthier.

Hamilton's board of health voted 6-3 in favour of a ban

Hamilton's board of health voted Monday to ban the sale of bottled water and sugary drinks at city facilities. (Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press)

Hamilton's board of health has voted to ban the sale of sugary drinks and bottled water in its arenas, rec centres and other facilities. But not everyone is convinced it will make people healthier.

The board — comprised of all city councillors — voted 6-3 Monday in favour of the ban.

Aidan Johnson, Ward 1 councillor in Hamilton's west end, sided with student and adult presenters who said bottled water is unnecessary and a scourge on the environment. He also said a sugary drink ban would encourage people to make healthier choices.

"One, plastic is a blight," he said. "Two, fresh water must be protected. And three, the health impacts of sugar on our population particularly on our youth have to be taken seriously."

City staff recommended a ban after a year-long study into the potential impacts. But not everyone thinks it will make a difference.

People will still drink sugary drinks, said Coun. Sam Merulla of Ward 4. And they'll still drink bottled water. The only difference is people will bring their own beverages to city facilities, and the city will lose money.

A staff report says bottled water generates about $20,000 in sales for the city every year, and sugary drinks $44,000.

Overall, city concession and vending machine sales generate about $748,840 a year for the city, the report says. The city sells about 16,000 bottles of water a year through those methods, as well as at golf courses and special events.

A ban is "not going to result in anything other than a loss of revenue," Merulla said. Otherwise, "I don't see it making any tangible difference."

The move came as part of the city's new healthy food and beverage action plan. The changes suggested in the plan will be implemented over the next three years. 

Hamilton city council still has to give final approval on May 23.


In favour of a ban

Aidan Johnson (Ward 1), Jason Farr (2), Matthew Green (3), Maria Pearson (10), Doug Conley (9), Mayor Fred Eisenberger

Opposed to a ban

Terry Whitehead (8), Chad Collins (5), Sam Merulla (4)

About the Author

Samantha Craggs

Reporter

Samantha Craggs is a CBC News reporter based in Hamilton, Ont. She has a particular interest in politics and social justice stories, and tweets live from Hamilton city hall. Follow her on Twitter at @SamCraggsCBC, or email her at samantha.craggs@cbc.ca

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.