Students will never see a plastic water bottle for sale at Ryerson’s cafeterias, Tim Hortons or vending machines from now on.
Ryerson has met its goal to go bottled-water free by September 2013 after signing a pledge early in 2010.
Ryerson was the first Ontario university to call for a ban on “water that is bottled and filled privately”, explains RSU vice-president of equity Rajean Hoilett.
“The idea being that water is a human right, it should be public service,” Hoilett adds.
Ryerson made a conscious effort to improve access to water before the ban came into effect.
The manager of campus facilities and sustainability (CF&S), Kerri Bailey, said that many water fountains have been repaired and replaced to include gooseneck water taps for refilling water bottles. The repairs have cost between $2,000 and $5,000 for each water fountain.
Hoilett has noticed other positive changes around campus. “There are many areas of improvement: making all of the water fountains accessible, putting them in noticeable locations and a number of other really important things,” he said.
More improvements are underway. Bailey says that the CF&S have plans to install two outdoor bottle refill stations in the East Quad, which would cater to the RCC, ARC and Pitman Hall and the Victoria Laneway/Gould Street area this fall. Each outdoor unit and installation would cost $18,000.
“The two units will be a trial run to determine if we need more, and where,” Bailey said.
Bailey added that CF&S is also compiling a list of working water fountains on campus and where to find them.
The RSU contributed by installed a vending machine in the student centre lobby that dispenses cheap, reusable water bottles, and they are working with CF&S to place more of them on campus.
While everyone on campus has jumped on the bottled-water free bandwagon, Balzac’s Coffee Roasters in the Image Arts Centre still sells glass water bottles.
Julia Hanigsberg, the vice president of administration and finance, says that Balzac’s is a Ryerson tenant and is not a part of the campus food management company, Chartwells. That is why they are not obligated to stop selling water bottles.
Hanigsberg says that Ryerson wants to have a conversation with Balzac’s owner about joining the campus-wide initiative.
She says she is hopeful they will get on board. “Balzac’s is a responsible business,” she said.