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City of Vancouver hears my call for a new Fairview drinking fountain

July 25, 2017

A visualization of my dream drinking water fountain in front of the Fire Hall Library.

Gosh. I can almost taste the cold water on my tongue.

The official in charge of the City Vancouver’s Access to Water program has acknowledged my blog post of July 11 calling for a drinking water fountain in front of the Fairview neighbourhood’s Vancouver Public Library Firehall Branch at 1455 West 10th Avenue.

In that blog post of July 11, I pointed out just how few drinking fountains Fairview has compared to the adjacent east Vancouver neighbourhood of Mount Pleasant.

Specifically, I noted how, from Cambie Street on the “10th Avenue local street bikeway“, going east, there were generally fountains ahead, or off to the side, within a kilometre of each other, going all the way to the  eastern edge of the city. But, in contrast, traveling west from Cambie along 10th, the next closest fountain was two to three km away.

A drinking fountain at the Firehall Library, I argued, would be well-situated to benefit the greatest number of Fairview residents. It would also benefit cyclists traveling through the neighbourhood on the 10th Avenue bikeway, because it would cut the existing distance between outdoor drinking water fountains along the bikeway in half.

And I provided two graphs showing how Fairview and the other 21 neighbourhoods fared—drinking fountain-wise, relative to both population and area.

Hope (for a water fountain) springs eternal

Preet Bal, the program coordinator for Drinking Water Quality and Access to Water with the City of Vancouver—working out of the Water Design Branch of Engineering Services—emailed me today (July 25) to tell me that she was treating my blog post as a request for a drinking water fountain in front of the Fire Hall Library.

Which was very nice of her.

She also acknowledged my alternate suggestion for a fountain location, namely outside the Indigo bookstore on the southwest corner of South Granville Street and West Broadway Avenue.

She receives all requests for water fountain locations made to 3-1-1, or via email to fountain.requests@vancouver.ca and said that such requests help her to gauge the demand for a particular location.

So I encourage everyone who agrees that Fairview needs more publicly-accessible sources of drinking water to contact the City as indicated above and request an outdoor drinking water fountain at the location of the Vancouver Library Public Library Firehall Branch at 1455 W 10th Avenue, or at another location of their choosing.

In addition to demand, she explained that the feasibility of the location also has to be considered, meaning proximity to a water main, drainage line, and the overall cost of installing a fountain. And I can only hope that the Firehall Library location scores high in this regard.

As for the motivating philosophy behind situating drinking fountains, Preet Ball described it this way:

“The mandate for the Access to Water Program is to increase accessibility of drinking water in the public sphere and support HEAT response for vulnerable populations. Citizen requests, recommendations from social planners and the City’s Emergency Response Office help drive where drinking fountains should be located. Alternatively, we can use redevelopment to bring a new fountain to the area.”

To the mention of serving vulnerable populations, I replied with points from my original 2015 call for the Fire Hall Library drinking fountain, about the need for free and public sources of drinking water in Fairview for the homeless people and Downtown Eastsiders who spend considerable time in the alleys of the neighbourhood looking through the dumpsters and recycling bins for returnable beverage containers and suchlike:

“These binners, dumpster divers and homeless people lack ready access to drinking water in the Fairview neighbourhood. This is both because most building owners make their external water taps inaccessible or inoperable and because the restaurants in the area have become fatigued (to put it nicely) by people coming in to get water—the McDonald’s in the 1400 block West Broadway typically now charges a 25 cents to supply a cup for water!”

The City’s drinking fountain czar wrapped up her email to me by listing recent additions under the Access to Water program:

Three fountains installed in 2017 by Engineering Services at:
  • Jim Deva Plaza, at Davie and Bute Street.
  • Point Grey Road & Waterloo Street.
  • 10th Avenue & Cambie Street (bottle-filling station).
And fountains with bottle-filler features installed by the Parks Board at:
  • Yukon Street & 17th Avenue.
  • Riley Park area, by Main Street and 33rd Avenue.
  • Sutcliffe Park, by Granville Island and the Island Park Walk.

In addition to the permanent fountains, each summer the City deploys up to six temporary drinking fountains as a response to higher temperatures. Preet Bal indicated that one is currently serving the site at 58 West Hastings Street and further locations are being reviewed.

She closed with the City’s hope to add three new drinking fountains to the Downtown Eastside before the end of 2017, based on requests received last year.

So, maybe 2018 will be the year for a Firehall Library fountain? Hope springs…Oh, I did that one already, didn’t I? Click the image to enlarge it.

4 Comments
  1. Nakota permalink

    Good day 😊 Water is a human right. Everyone deserves water. I support your requests and will give city hall a call. May the Great Creator Bless You’ll Always.

    • Thank you. Yes. I agree that access to sanitation and clean drinking water is fundamental to any sort of decent standard of living and therefore must be considered a fundamental human right.

  2. We have added our voice to the request. Firehall/Library is a perfect spot.

    • Thank you. It occurs to me that the northeast corner of South Granville, beside ECW, is also a good spot — central, accessible and spacious. (there’s enough space to erect a tent! 🙂

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