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Word of the Rings

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Welcome to Word of the Rings, a new Rabble.ca blog that aims to serve as a one-stop examination at what’s happening behind the scenes for the 2010 Winter Olympics Whistler. Pina will be your guide through these (somewhat) uncharted waters. We will get up close and personal with the powerful, yet bizarre troupe called VANOC and examine the effects of the Games on local residents, small business owners, municipal debt loads, real estate prices, the environment, the homeless and housing. This column is meant to be interactive, so if you have a tip, idea or a complaint, please feel free to drop me an email. I'll do my best to monitor the comments and react when appropriate.

Olympic guide to Vancouver's tap water

| February 16, 2010
Olympic guide to Vancouver's tap water

If Vancouver councillor, Tim Stevenson gets his way, Olympic visitors will be able to savour a glass of Metro Vancouver's thirst-quenching tap water at the city's two Olympic Live Sites.

CBC News reports that "Metro Vancouver has started a campaign to encourage Olympic tourists to drink the region's tap water instead of buying bottled water, creating a potential conflict with Coca-Cola Ltd., one of the Games' biggest official sponsors."

Advertisements for Dasani and Vitamin Water are plastered all over the city and athletes endorse the products. While Olympic organizers claim these are the "greenest games ever," glass containers or bottles are prohibited from all Olympic venues (along with firearms, ammunition, pepper spray and water balloon launchers). Best to leave your Tim Horton mug at home.

Thirsty spectators and sports enthusiasts will only be allowed to purchase single-use plastic containers sold by Coca-Cola. Be prepared to pay $3 CAD for a bottle of water (or free from a water fountain). Coca-Cola plans to sell more than seven million beverages during the Olympics.

Visitors to the Whistler Medals Plaza are only allowed to take in commercially bottled water with an unbroken seal. It's sure difficult being green!

Stevenson said a goal of the tap water campaign is to reduce sales of bottled water by 20 per cent by the end of 2010. Despite Coke's efforts to transform bottles into staff uniforms or park benches, the production and transportation of bottled water contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, and even if the bottle is recycled, more energy is needed to reuse the plastic.

Coca-Cola has cultivated a market for bottled water, even in a country like Canada that has one of the best public drinking water systems in the world. Both Vancouver and Whistler have excellent tap water and VANOC and our governments should be showcasing this resource to the world.

Vancouver's state-of-the-art Seymour Capilano Filtration project opened recently just in time for the Olympics. It is the largest water treatment plant of its kind in Canada, with the largest UV disinfection facility in the world.

Tourists are in for more greenwash when they purchase a bottle of Whistler Water, especially if they think the water is sourced from pristine mountain glaciers.

According to WhistlerWater.net, "The source of Whistler Water is located along side of Portage Road approximately 5 miles north of the Mount Currie Indian Reserve 6 near Birken, B.C.. The labeling clearly misleads the consumer that the source is Whistler. The only presence in Whistler is P.O. Box 1400 as listed on their label."Guess the word "Whistler" has more cachet.


The good news is that Whistler's Live Site is serving tap water and all the performers are given a reusable water bottle that comes with free refills of "genuine" Whistler water.

Vancouver also pledges to go head-to head with Coca Cola and make tap water available at the city's two Live Sites, where thousands of people will gather to listen to live music and watch sports events on giant video screens.



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