The move to stop the sale of bottled water was announced Thursday at the Orillia campus by Principal Dr. Dean Jobin-Bevans. As the winter semester begins, single-use bottled water will no longer be available in the cafeteria, kiosk or vending machines on campus. Students will also be encouraged to refrain from bringing single-use, disposable bottles on campus and to switch to reusable bottles.
“As Canada’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Platinum university campus, Lakehead Orillia is committed to comprehensive sustainability management and responsible sustainability practices,” said Jobin-Bevans. “It’s a positive step in our commitment to enhancing the quality of campus life, and reducing the negative social and environmental impacts of single-use bottled water.”
Lakehead Orillia joins a chorus of universities and colleges that have pledged to go bottled water free. The ban comes after a request from Lakehead University Student Union (LUSU) that raised awareness of the environmental, economic and social impacts of bottled water.
“LUSU had a hand in developing this policy because not only do we strongly believe in cutting down on single-use plastics, but also that water is a human right, not a commodity,” said Theresa Vandeburgt, LUSU Vice-President Orillia.
Ledah McKellar, Coordinator of the Office of Sustainability at Lakehead University, said that the ban on bottled water represents a historic moment for the University.
“The decision to eliminate single-use bottled water at Lakehead University Orillia reflects the University’s increasing commitment to sustainability. Further change benefits from the collective willingness of our community to engage with sustainability issues. Many people were involved in the making of this policy, and we hope it sets the stage for turning ongoing conversation into meaningful actions.”
The University has already made significant progress in improving free access to drinking water with the installation of two water bottle refill stations at the University Avenue campus and the Faculty of Education in downtown Orillia. Another water bottle refill station will be installed in the cafeteria this year. That is in addition to the five water fountains that are already equipped with bottle fillers.
“We are fortunate to have safe, potable water, which makes relying on single-use bottles completely unnecessary,” said Chris Glover, Director, Student Success at Lakehead University. “We are proud to support this student-led initiative.”
The bottled water ban builds on Lakehead Orillia’s LEED® Platinum certification, which recognizes performance in five key areas including sustainable site development, water efficiency, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.
One of the more distinct and noticeable features of the campus is the green roof of Simcoe Hall. Over 50 per cent of the roof is covered with a natural ground cover, which acts as a cooling agent and helps manage runoff. The building also uses a geothermal heating system.