Archived Winnipeg Labour Council Stories

Public Water Gets Boost from University of Winnipeg


The University of Winnipeg will become the first university in Canada to end the provision and sale of bottled water campus-wide. The sale of bottled water will be phased out by this fall and funding will be available to upgrade water infrastructure on campus. Water fountains will also be installed and located in prominent areas in three new campus facilities.

The University of Winnipeg Students Association (UWSA) recently voted to end the purchase and provision of bottled water at student-led events and meetings, and in a recent student initiated referendum, three-quarters of students voted to eliminate the sale of bottled water on campus with the highest voter turnout in years.

"Students at the University of Winnipeg have great pride for our campus", says Vinay Iyer, President of the UWSA. "The fact that we have joined with our administration and taken ownership over our environmental impact on campus sends a strong message across the country - it was a community effort."

The U of W ban on bottled water is the latest result of an ongoing national student campaign that has been underway for over a year. The initiative has been organized by the Polaris Institute, the Canadian Federation of Students and the Sierra Youth Coalition.


Public Water as a Right

"Our campuses need to lead the way on sustainability initiatives", said David Jacks, Manitoba Chairperson for the Canadian Federation of Students. "It is our hope that other institutions across Canada will take similar action, and enshrine public drinking water as a Right by refusing to accept water as a commodity".

The University of Winnipeg ban was the result of months of collaborative efforts by the UWSA, the Canadian Federation of Students – Manitoba, and the Polaris Institute.

"As part of a growing movement, the University of Winnipeg's initiative demonstrates the important role of campuses in taking action on bottled water and in supporting public water services," says Zoe Maggio, Water Campaigner with the Polaris Institute.

The U of W ban is the latest in a series of victories to encourage the use of public water. There are now 31 universities and colleges that have established over 50 bottled water free zones, 30 municipalities from seven provinces have taken action on bottled water, and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities recently urged their members to "phase out the purchase and sale of bottled water" in municipal facilities.


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