New Hamilton stadium will have drinking fountains after all

The City of Hamilton plans to add drinking fountains at the new Tim Hortons Field, a decision made by councillors after a public outcry that ensued following a report by CBC Hamilton.

'It’s the right thing to do': Councillor on adding fountains to public areas of stadium for Pan Am Games

A stadium employee takes a rest after carrying a case of bottled water up the stairs at Hamilton's Tim Hortons Field during the CFL Labour Day Classic. After a public outcry, the city has decided to pay to add water fountains at the stadium. (John Rieti/CBC)

The City of Hamilton plans to add drinking fountains at the new Tim Hortons Field after all.

The decision by councillors comes after a public outcry that ensued following a report by CBC Hamilton.

The city will spend its own money to add fountains to the new stadium, a $145-million project due for completion in October and to be used for soccer matches during the Pan Am Games in 2015. Fountains are going in the office areas and change rooms, and at field level for players, but there originally were none in areas accessible to the public.

The city will add the fountains after it takes possession of the stadium later this year, said Coun. Terry Whitehead, chair of the public works committee.

“It’s the right thing to do,” he said. “We all, as taxpayers, pay for the services for the water.”

Whitehead said he and other councillors were shocked that the new stadium didn’t have water fountains. It’s a corporate standard for the city, he said. But Infrastructure Ontario is overseeing the stadium project.

“It was a big shock to many of us that it wasn’t incorporated as a corporate standard.”

CBC Hamilton first reported that the new stadium didn’t have public drinking fountains.

Bottled water furor

The stadium opened just in time for the Labour Day Classic — the first game by the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats to be held there — and fans had to spend $3.50 for a 591-millilitre bottle of Dasani. The concession stands ran out of water minutes after kickoff and stadium staff scrambled to restock.

The stadium wasn’t completed, so the elevators didn’t work. That meant staff had to carry cases of water up the main stairs as temperatures climbed above 27 C.

Most other Pan Am facilities will have water fountains.

Milton’s new velodrome, which will host Pan Am cycling events, and Scarborough’s new aquatic centre, which will host swimming and diving, have public water stations.

The Air Canada Centre, Rogers Centre and BMO Field in Toronto also have public water fountains.

FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton, formerly known as Copps Coliseum, does not.

The public let city councillors know that they wanted water fountains, said Whitehead, who got "four or five" emails about the issue.

Staff will come back with an estimate on how much it will cost to add the fountains, Whitehead said. The city will pay for them out of the existing stadium-operating budget.

The city also had to add water-filling stations after its sweeping city hall renovations in 2010.

With files from John Rieti

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