General Permit Information

Toronto's Bottled Water Ban

Bottled Water Ban in City Parks and Facilities

In December of 2008, City Council approved a bottled water ban to take effect in January of 2012. The ban, which affects most of Toronto's parks and park facilities, prohibits the sale and distribution of bottled water in all Civic Centres, City facilities and parks. Council decision (PDF)

The ban provides exceptions for public health and safety related situations, previous lease agreements and ALL authorized special events in City facilities and parks. Bottled water may still be sold or distributed at these locations:
List of exempted parks and facilities (PDF)

The bottled water ban will support the City's broader waste diversion goals, reduce litter in our parks and lower waste disposal costs for the City.

We recommend that permit holders for our sports fields and facilities do the following when using park locations included in the ban:

  • Inform participants of their sports programs to bring their own refillable water bottles to the park
  • Encourage coaches to support players by providing water jugs to refill their bottles
  • Notify coaches and program participants that water bottles can also be filled at water fountains, where available.

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

Q: If water bottles are recyclable, why are they being banned?

A: While water bottles are recyclable, they still require a significant amount of energy to manufacture, transport and eventually recycle. The reuse of durable water bottles is preferable in energy usage to recycling. This is critical for the City of Toronto, which is currently taking aggressive action to reduce its carbon footprint as outlined in the Climate Change Action Plan.

Q: How does the use of water bottles specifically impact Parks?

A: The 2008 Parks Waste Audit indicated that recyclables compose approximately 14% of the litter stream, making the disposal of waste difficult and potentially costly. Plastic materials comprised the largest amount of recyclables at roughly 7%. The reduction of plastic bottles in our parks would reduce contamination of the litter stream and reduce the cost of dealing with contaminated loads that are not accepted at transfer stations. 

Q: Why are some parks and park facilities exempt from the ban?

A: Parks, Forestry & Recreation was asked by City Council to identify specific sites that require an exemption from the ban. The final list of exempted parks and park facilities was based on the following criteria for exemption:

1. Location does not have potable water

2. Location does not have functioning water fountains

3. Location does not have sufficient water fountains or taps for the number of users

4. Location has existing leases or agreements with vendors who sell bottled water.

Q: Are other municipalities also implementing bottled water bans?

A: Numerous municipalities across Canada already have bottled water bans or restrictions in place in facilities and/or parks, including: Ajax, Burlington, Cornwall, London, Newmarket, Niagara Falls, Oakville, Oshawa, Peterborough, St. Catherines, Windsor, Waterloo, Nelson, Victoria, Vancouver, etc.

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