Cambridge councillor pushing to bring public outdoor water fountains back to city core
The City of Cambridge has no free, public outdoor water drinking fountains, but one city councillor is trying to change that.
“Canada has 20 per cent of the world’s fresh water reserves. We have an abundance of clean, safe, affordable drinking water, and yet there’s not a single outdoor space in Cambridge for the public to access it,” Ward 7 Coun. Scott Hamilton said in an interview.
Hamilton brought a motion forward at council to have city staff compile a report of what it would take to start a pilot project with one fountain installed in the city’s core.
This week, city council voted unanimously in favour of the report, which will look into things like cost, location and cleanliness.
“These fountains would be safe, they’d be sanitary and they’d overcome a lot of problems of previous drinking fountains in terms of health and maintenance,” Hamilton said.
“You do have some that are called the open system, where you can put your head down and drink, but it’s protected so no one can put their mouth over the nozzle and make it the germ fountain we knew of growing up.”
The City of Cambridge confirmed there are no outdoor drinking stations in the area. They were all removed after the Walkerton E. Coli contamination issue around 2006.
City staff said times have changed since those fountains were removed, and there’s more thought put into environmental impact now.
“I think drinking fountains are a great way for people to avoid purchasing plastic water bottles. They’re a nice place for a refill. We see people enjoy outdoors, walking with their dog and maybe there’s an opportunity to make something unique where there could be an added dog drinking fountain attached,” Hardy Bromberg, the deputy city manager of community development with the City of Cambridge, said.
Bromberg said there are some concerns that have been raised including finding a safe location, potential for vandalism and cost.
He said one fountain could be in the range of $10,000 to $20,000.
“It depends on what kind of infrastructure is there, what kind of drinking fountain you’re looking at and, frankly, if council is interested in sprucing it up by maybe adding a little bit of public art to the drinking fountain or in the area, and turning it into a place-making initiative,” Bromberg said.
Hamilton said the pilot project fountain would likely be in the downtown core, with the hope of additional fountains being installed other locations if things go well.
The Cambridge Downtown Business Improvement Association said it’s in favour of having the addition.
“We’re known for our trails and walking down here because of all of our murals down street,” Chair Shane Murphy said. “For people when they’re thirsty to have a drink, we’re definitely approving of that.”
Administration will work on the report over the next few months and will bring more details back to city council to make a final decision on the pilot project.