On March 22 2019, World Water Day, McGill University and the City of Montréal were awarded Blue Community certification. Montréal thus joined a proud cohort of about 40 international cities with this certification, including Paris, Berlin, Madrid, Victoria B.C. and Burnaby B.C. (which became the first Blue Community in 2011). McGill is the fourth university worldwide to achieve this distinction.
Maude Barlow, who awarded the certificates, is herself National Chairperson for the Council of Canadians, author and expert on water issues, and founder of the Blue Planet project.
What is a Blue Community?
The Blue Communities Project encourages municipalities and Indigenous communities to support the idea of a water commons framework, recognizing that water is a shared resource for all, by passing resolutions that:
- Recognize water and sanitation as human rights.
- Ban or phase out the sale of bottled water in municipal facilities and at municipal events.
- Promote publicly financed, owned, and operated water and wastewater services.
The Council of Canadians, the Blue Planet Project and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) initiated the Blue Communities Project in 2009. Eau Secours is a partner on the Blue Communities Project in Quebec.
- Bottled water leads to water shortages.
- Bottled water contributes to climate change.
- Our landfills cannot support bottled water.
- Bottled water is not safer than tap water; in fact the opposite is true.
- Water is a human right. Although the United Nations passed a resolution to this effect in 2010, Canada did not concede this truth until 2012. Even today, there is a double standard in which Canadian First Nations communities have an inordinate number of longstanding water advisories, something that is unheard-of in non-native communities. According to a 2018 CTV report, there are 81 water advisories affecting 50 First Nations communities across the country. In March 2019, I counted at least 53 such advisories on the government pages, which do not include those for Saskatoon or for communities north of 60.