City tries to deter sugary drinks and bottled water, but don't call it a ban

The city is pushing residents to buy less bottled water and sugary drinks at its arenas and rec centres, but it's stopping short of an outright ban.
The City of Hamilton will try to deter people from buying sugary drinks at arenas and rec centres. (Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press)

The city is pushing residents to buy less bottled water and sugary drinks at its arenas and rec centres, but it's stopping short of an outright ban.

Hamilton city council voted 9-6 Wednesday to offer healthier, more eco-friendly options at its facilities. The goal, they said, is to steer people away from sodas and bottled water, and encourage them to drink tap water instead.

But while Coun. Aidan Johnson called it "a partial ban" and "a gradual phasing out," and some others thought it was a ban too, several councillors made sure that wasn't the case.

Tom Jackson, Ward 6 councillor, didn't want to "go down that path."

"I'm not on for that ban," said Jackson. "Read the language here. In the recommendations, it's already talking about reducing the reliance on bottled water. It's talking about reducing the availability of bottled water. It's about telling volunteers to do their best to eliminate the sale of bottled water."

With Wednesday's vote, the city will change its menus over three years. It will make tap water more convenient, says a city media release, and make nutrition information more available to customers. 

It will group food and drink in the categories of green, yellow and red according to Canada's Food Guide.

"There will also be a continued focus on reducing reliance on bottled water, and ensuring sugary drinks won't be positioned more prominently than water," the city said. It will also stock reusable bottles.

Matthew Green, Ward 3 councillor, said he was ready to call for an outright ban right now on bottled water and sugary drinks. This three-year plan, he said, is a good effort, but a small one.

"This motion, in a very modest way, on a very low level, provides some leadership."

Those in favour of the effort said plastic water bottles harm the environment, and sugary drinks contribute to obesity. 

Those opposed said it takes away people's choice, that it will cost the city revenue and do little to solve the issue, and that bottled water is an alternative to people who want less fluoride in their water.


How they voted

In favour:

Aidan Johnson (Ward 1), Jason Farr (2), Matthew Green (3), Terry Whitehead (8), Lloyd Ferguson (12), Arlene VanderBeek (13), Judi Partridge (15), Maria Pearson (10), Mayor Fred Eisenberger

Opposed:

Sam Merulla (4), Chad Collins (5), Tom Jackson (6), Donna Skelly (7), Doug Conley (9), Rob Pasuta (14)

Not present:

Brenda Johnson (11)

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

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