I read with interest the article written by Sheila Reynolds that appeared in the Sept. 20 edition of The Surrey-North Delta Leader entitled, “Bottled water drying up in Surrey School District.”
It is unfortunate that School District 36 chose to ban the sale of bottled water outright, denying our industry, affected parent council groups and other stakeholders their democratic right to address the board with their concerns regarding this matter before a decision was rendered.
Our request for a deferral of Surrey Trustee Laurie Larsen’s motion, so that the other side of the story could be told – and democracy served – was never considered.
It is interesting to note that these Canadian Union of Public Employee/Council of Canadians template resolutions have been rejected by other B.C. school boards, primarily because parent councils use bottled water to raise funds for their schools, a number of schools rely on bottled water due to serious lead contamination issues and bottled water gives students something to drink that fits with the B.C. Ministry of Education’s nutritional guidelines.
In Ms. Reynolds’ piece, Ms. Larsen makes numerous statements about bottled water that have long been confirmed as false – mythology one typically finds on anti-bottled water activists’ websites.
Of greatest concern to us was Ms. Larsen’s dismissal of independent, third-party research carried out by the World Health Organization, Health Canada and the Toronto District School Board, which confirms the impacts on students and staff when bottled water is removed as a choice in a vending machine or cafeteria, and the unconditional support by her board colleagues for her completely unscientific views.
Board staff are now tasked with measuring the impacts of this well-meaning but misinformed decision and, assuming there is true clarity in their report regarding the financial impact to the board of lost sales, the health concerns of local public health officials and the capital costs of removing lead contamination and constructing and maintaining public water fountains, hopefully a majority of trustees will conclude rescinding this motion is in order.
John B. Challinor II
Director of Corporate Affairs
Nestlé Waters Canada