Barry pushes for plastics reduction
By Chad Ingram
Published Feb. 28, 2019
Algonquin Highlands Councillor Lisa Barry would like to see the township use less plastic by gravitating away from plastic water bottles to reusable vessels instead.
“The environment committee has been pretty big advocates of trying to decrease the amount of plastic water bottles, and since we do have drinking water access points in the township, I wonder if there’s room for the township to sell, or use, reusable water vessels,” Barry said during a Feb. 20 budget meeting, indicating that perhaps such containers could be sold at locations such as trails offices or the Stanhope airport. “I see it as an expense, but potentially revenue as well.”
“My gut reaction wold be not to be selling something like that,” said Deputy Mayor Liz Danielsen, who chaired the meeting in absence of Mayor Carol Moffatt. “I would be more apt to see us encourage, somehow, supplying or making sure our own people have reusable vessels.”
“We have explored that and are continuing to,” said chief administrative officer Angie Bird. “It’s a challenge, there’s no question. If you provide that to your workers, there’s nothing to ensure that they bring them to work.”
Councillor Jennifer Dailloux said the gym she goes to has instituted a no one-time use plastics policy.
“And after a short period of time, people figured it out and adapted to it and they bring in their own water bottles,” Dailloux said.
Bird said she wouldn’t want to put staff who may forget water at a health and safety risk, especially during the hot summer months. She said the township could probably reduce, but likely not completely eliminate, its use of plastic water bottles.
“It would take some time to implement,” she said.
Public works director Adam Thorn said he had looked into it for staff, and the cost would likely be $20 to $30 for personal industrial-sized water bottles.
“The trouble that I’ve run into with this research is, like Angie said, what do we do if somebody forgets a water bottle at home?” Thorn said. “It can very easily happen . . . we’d still have to carry cases of water with us.”
Thorn also posited that public works employees may end up spending a lot of time going back and forth to refill their water bottles.
“I think the best practice that I wanted to move forward into this year was making sure that all staff have the ability to recycle that, that they’re being proactive, that they’re not leaving the bottles in the trucks,” Thorn said.
Treasurer Tammy McKelvey also pointed out that it may be unrealistic to expect the township’s firefighters to remember to take water with them to a call, and that during, say, a 12-hour call, water that firefighters had brought with them may not be sufficient.
“There’s some opportunities, things we can think about,” said Danielsen.
Ultimately, reusable water bottles for staff were not included in the budget.