9th April 2020
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, I hope you and your family are staying safe, practicing physical distancing and taking care of yourself and your community.
I’m writing today to bring to you some good news. A few weeks ago, Vancouver City Council voted to become the second largest Blue Community in Canada – a grassroots community water project co-created by the Council of Canadians more than a decade ago. That means that one in four residents in British Columbia live in a community that has committed to protecting water as a human right, banning bottled water, and saying no to privatization of water and wastewater services.
In more good news, Burnaby, the first community to turn “blue,” reaffirmed their commitment earlier this year. Connecting the dots between water protection and Indigenous rights, the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs also endorsed the project.
By becoming a Blue Community, Vancouver has joined 70 other communities across Canada and around the world, committing to guaranteeing water as a human right to all residents. These communities have promised not to shut off residents’ water if they cannot pay, made public washroom facilities more physically accessible and safe to all, including people experiencing homelessness or struggling with addiction, and have committed to keeping water services in public hands.
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Vancouver installed handwashing stations in the Downtown East Side, secured community centres and hotels as shelters, and allowed a safe supply of drugs to protect the most vulnerable populations from the pandemic.
Health officials at all levels consistently tell us that handwashing is one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. While many of us take it for granted, universal access to water and sanitation is not yet the reality in many communities. Many First Nations communities have lived for decades without safe, clean drinking water, putting them at tremendous risk of COVID-19. When we fail to protect water as a human right it is the most vulnerable that are most affected. This crisis lays bare and heightens that reality.
In the short term and over the coming months, decisions must be made to put people and communities first. The Blue Communities Project represents a vision of water protection and community-led water governance that empowers individuals to step up and reimagine what their community could look like when we have passed this immediate threat.
I’m asking you to join me in building that vision for all of British Columbia and across Canada, one community at a time. Will you make a contribution to keep our Blue Communities work going strong?
Donate to support Blue Communities!
Your support will help us work with more communities across B.C. and Canada, produce materials and resources, and grow our online organizing capacity as we adhere to physical distancing guidelines.
It has never been more important to guarantee safe, clean water and adequate sanitation to all, and you can help make that happen.
Thank you for all you do.
Other ways to give: You can securely donate online or by mail at the address below.
The Council of Canadians, 200-240 Bank Street, Ottawa, ON, K2P 1X4
1-800-387-7177 inquiriescanadians.org canadians.org