Ottawa’s Water Mobile program, which would pay for two trucks to provide free drinking water at summer festivals and other events, is on hold as the city looks into the possibility of finding a corporate sponsor to foot the bill.
Citing the water department’s $5.579-million deficit, Coun. Bob Monette had introduced a motion to outright kill the $200,000 program, which is meant to promote the city’s drinking water and reduce waste from the use of bottled water.
“I’m 58 years old,” he said. “I remember for at least 55 years I’ve been drinking city water.
Never once did I have to have a Water Mobile to tell me that the water was safe to drink.”
Other Ontario municipalities, including Guelph, have similar programs. Council had originally voted in favour of the water trucks during the budget process.
The $200,000 cost for the program includes $120,000 for the purchase of two trucks, with annual costs of $34,000 to operate them, $25,000 for promotion and $21,000 to hire three summer students.
Arguing in favour of the Water Mobiles, Coun. Peter Hume compared the trucks in terms of expense and promotional intent to the city’s parade float: “One’s for water and the other’s for politicians. We won’t cut the one for politicians but we’ll cut the one for water, because we all want to ride around on it and wave.”
An amendment by Coun. Marianne Wilkinson to buy only one truck instead of two, at a total cost of $100,000, was defeated.