Ecology North has sent the City of Yellowknife a letter asking them to sign a pledge called #loveNWTwater, which would signify that the city is committed to reducing the use of plastic single-use water bottles.
In the letter to Mayor Mark Heyck, Ecology North said that in 2014 residents of the N.W.T. used more than 1.3 million plastic bottles. The environmental group is asking the city to commit to removing the bottles from city facilities, stop supplying the bottles at special events, promote tap water, and bring in more public water fountains.
At a Municipal Services Committee meeting on Monday, councillors discussed the idea of supporting the cause.
Coun. Shauna Morgan said she fully supports signing the pledge, but some of the other councillors were hesitant.
"There could be a substantial cost to a resolution like this if we really want to walk the walk," said Coun. Niels Konge.
He's concerned about the cost of providing water lines to vendors at public events, like the summer farmer's market.
"There's certainly a lot of things that I want to think about before I give my whole-hearted support for this, but fundamentally I believe it's a good idea," said Konge.
Coun. Steve Payne is worried about the ramifications for small business owners in city arenas and other facilities.
"They use water bottles as a revenue generator," said Payne. He wants to see some kind of support for those business owners if the city decides to sign the pledge.
The bottles would also be removed from vending machines in city facilities.
Sheila Bassi-Kellett, the city's senior administrative officer, said the city could work with subcontractors to "make sure they're supported in having a viable alternative that doesn't adversely affect their business more than it should."
The City of Yellowknife has already started reducing its use of single-use water bottles by using compostable cups at city events. It's also created a list of tips and tricks to help local vendors be more sustainable. (That will be launched, with Ecology North, as part of a Sustainable Event Guide Jan. 15.)
The bottled water issue will be brought back to city council in a few weeks.