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'Feels like a dead zone': Vancouver residents campaign for working water fountains

The group held a rally on Sept. 9 to bring awareness to their campaign.
water fountain
Charlotte Traver and other West End residents are asking the City and Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation to turn on three water fountains in the neighbourhood.

A group of West End locals wants the tap running again at three water fountains in the neighbourhood.

Since last April, Charlotte Tarver and other residents have been asking the City and Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation to turn on water fountains located at Bute and Haro streets, Barclay Heritage Square, and at the intersection of Beach and Pacific streets. 

However, the Park Board has refused, citing water conservation by-law 4848, says the group of residents. This is despite the Park Board granting exemptions to several children's splash parks and allowing irrigation at some city facilities. 

In response, the group of locals held an information rally yesterday (Sept. 9) at 4 p.m. at the Bute and Haro mini-park to bring awareness to their campaign. The gathering featured speakers and outlined the public health benefits of working water fountains. 

"Spending time in this oasis-like setting contributes to the mental and physical well-being of my fellow residents, and helps them engage in the local scene with neighbours, kids and other folk," says Traver. “When the water isn’t running, the mini-park soon becomes shabby and litter ridden. It feels like a dead zone when dry.”

After being turned down twice by Mayor Kennedy Stewart, Traver is appealing to the city's Seniors' Advocacy Committee and the provincial Seniors Advocate to help turn on the fountains, or at least get a commitment to get the water flowing next spring. 

The City of Vancouver Planning Commission released a memo during last year's heat dome emergency which called for more drinking and decorative fountains to help the public cool off. During the same heat dome, a motion put forward by Park Board Commissioner John Coupar called for an inventory of all of the city's water features in the Park Board system, as well as a timeline and cost estimates for necessary upgrades and repairs to non-functional features.

Traver plans on using these recommendations to convince the seniors advocates to help.