This is the water filling station in the 300 block of Main Street. (City photo)

This is the water filling station in the 300 block of Main Street. (City photo)

Penticton Blue Communities decision delayed for more information

Councilors want to know more about the financial impact of joining the project

Penticton city council wants to know more about the financial impact before committing to the Blue Communities Project.

After back and forth debate between members of council the decision to join the project was pushed back to wait for more information.

Coun. Campbell Watt in particular opposed signing onto the project without a better understanding of how much it would cost the city to uphold the various principles.

“I would hate to rush into a program just to say we are part of a program,” said Watt.

The project would see a full ban on selling bottled water in city facilities, and expanding the availability of potable water.

Additional water bottle fill stations could cost from $4,000 for an indoor unit or $8,000 or more, and city staff did not know how many would be needed to properly and fully supply enough stations for the community.

“I think we’ve been moving in that direction on our own for some time, but I feel equally as adamant that we should go the whole way and commit to the program,” said coun. Katie Robinson.

Robinson was the most vocal supporter for joining the project, and pointed to the SOEC among other city facilities that should have free water available.

READ MORE: Penticton to look at turning Blue

Mayor John Vassilaki also pointed to the potential impact to private businesses in the community that sell water with the city providing free water bottle refills everywhere.

A split vote defeated Robinson’s motion to fully join the Blue Communities Project, with councillors Robinson, Julius Bloomfield and James Miller in favour.

“When I get looked at for why I voted no, I want people to know it’s because of the absolute unknowns of what the costs are here,” said Watt. “I just want to know what the implementation factors are before we commit to it.”

Watt instead proposed that staff due a further evaluation on what impacts would be on the city under the assumption Penticton joins the project.

The financial impacts will be back before council at a later date with a more detailed financial analysis.

READ MORE: Letter: Penticton needs Blue Community Project to protect our water

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