What is a Blue Community? Committee hears ideas about protecting local water

Blog Post
Water Bottle Fill Station

What is a Blue Community? And what would it mean to Penticton? Lynn Walford, of the Blue Communities Project, recently made a presentation to the Community Sustainability Advisory Committee about possible actions the city could take to protect and conserve local water. 

City Council has received the minutes of the meeting, which provides further direction for City staff to investigate the matter and report back to the committee for further discussion. 

On March 17, 2021, Walford told committee members about what it would mean to become recognized as a Blue Community. Currently, there are 80 designated Blue Communities worldwide, with the program well established on the West Coast of B.C., including Vancouver, North Vancouver, Burnaby, Victoria, Comox, Cumberland and Nanaimo, representing over 25% of British Columbians.

“I would like to applaud Penticton on its water management and policies,” said Walford, a long-time environmental advocate who lives in Penticton. “I’m confident our water is in good hands and we’re ready to meet all the requirements of a Blue Community certification.”

What does it mean to be a Blue Community? 

Recognition as a Blue Community involves these three key areas of action, said Walford.

  1. Recognize water and sanitation as a human right. 
  2. Phase out the sale of bottled water in municipal facilities and at municipal events. For example, municipal water would be made available at meetings and events, including bottle water refill stations. 
  3. Promote publicly financed, owned and operated water and wastewater services.

Committee feedback 

Committee members thanked Walford for the presentation. 

“I think what you laid out is really beneficial in that it shows the clear steps Penticton has taken, and the remaining steps, having a timeline that extends into 2022. I think we could work together to make something that’s comprehensive and meet all the criteria of becoming a Blue Community,” said member Nicolas Stulberg. 

Member Randy Boras commented: “I strongly support all the of the mandates that Blue Communities is supporting.”

Committee member Lyndie Hill questioned whether there would be opportunities for local businesses to get on board to help promote and support action #2, reducing the sale of water bottles throughout the community. 

Committee members did have questions about each of the action items and suggested City staff look into whether there would be any challenges or implications involved. They questioned what the responsibilities would involve to uphold the proposed resolutions. 

City staff will review the matter further and return to the Community Sustainability Advisory Committee with suggestions for discussion. Committee members will then create a recommendation to Council, for future consideration. 

About the Community Sustainability Advisory Committee 

Current members include Chris Allen (chair), Margaret Holm, Nicolas Stulberg, Randy Boras, Philip Hawkes, Lyndie Hill, Amelia Boultbee, Tracy Van Raes and Anne Hargrave.
The committee meets monthly, providing feedback and opinions on issues to be decided upon by City Council. Their mandate is to make recommendations on matters involving the environment, renewable energy, climate action and recycling.

If you are interested in learning more about applying to become a committee member, visit our Council Committees page. To read more updates from behind the scenes, go to Committee Updates.