People attending events at Ottawa's new trade show centre may find there is no cheap way to satisfy their thirst, as the building does not have a single drinking fountain.

The CE Centre near the Ottawa airport was built through a public-private partnership with the city contributing about $8.5 million to the project.

But unlike most city facilities, there are no drinking fountains. Water is sold in vending machines at the CE Centre, at a cost of $3 for a 500 millilitre bottle.

Even those who bring an empty bottle to fill up in the bathroom are out of luck. The taps are automated and dispense lukewarm water.

Kevin McCrann, the centre's president, said he only realized there were no drinking fountains when he moved in.

Fountains 'slipped through the cracks'

"When you're designing a building and building a building, there's probably a million things that go into it, and a water fountain is not a code issue," said McCrann.

"I think it's just something that slipped through the cracks."

McCrann said the facility is a green one and well on its way to attaining a LEED Silver certification for environmental sustainability. He said they might consider installing drinking fountains but it is not at the top of their agenda.

"It's something we'll look at probably adding to the building, it's not a major thing to do that," he said.

The city contracted McCrann's employer, the Shenkman Corporation, to build and operate the facility. The chairwoman of the city's environment committee, Coun. Maria McRae, did not respond to several requests for an interview.

In an email, a city spokesperson deferred comment to the CE Centre's operator.