Rosemary Ganley The Peterborough Examiner August 27, 2020
In the dog days of July this year, temperatures were well over 30 degrees. I won’t speak of the large issues of global warming hitting us with a heavy hand, but I will consider at the micro level the pain of many citizens who make their home day by day on the streets of Peterborough or in shelters, already strapped by COVID-19.
A small group of alert citizens noticed a real and direct problem: downtowners, the homeless and marginalized, in addition to the people who walk and cycle, had few places to get free water to drink. On the hottest of days. Members of a voluntary group, calling themselves "The Squeaky Wheel" became conscious of this deprivation even as they personally had easy access to cold water in their homes.
The hardship was the result of the city providing five drinking water sources, only three of which are in the downtown For two of those three sources, COVID-19 has drastically reduced hours: the library (only a few hours a week when book returns are open); One Roof Centre (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.), and the Lighthouse at the Marina.
The situation represents a real Canadian irony, considering that we have a lot of fresh water. Locally, we have the Otonabee River. We also have the infrastructure to deliver clean water to almost everyone. Canada, with one-half of a per cent of the world’s population, has seven per cent of the world’s renewable fresh water. It comes from lakes, underground aquifers and glaciers. Half of our water drains northward to Hudson’s Bay and the Arctic Ocean, so we do well to conserve water.
For 30 years, Canadian heroine Maude Barlow, now 73, has been a strong water warrior, educating, researching and writing. She has published 16 books, including “Blue Planet” and the latest, “Whose Water is It Anyway?” The difficulty is the lack of clean, public washrooms and water fountains. Every European city has them, part of sensible urban planning. Nurse Theresa Morris has researched safe designs. Such facilities need to be imagined first; then city council has to realize their importance and budget for them, and then Peterborough people have to respect and take care of them.
To apply pressure on decision-makers, the 12 or so “Squeaky Wheelers,” led by Gord Halsey, organized a free water station. Halsey is an engineer with considerable experience in risk management, who has lived in Peterborough for 6 years and has a social conscience formed in the Salvation Army. He set out to get water donated and then give it out free downtown every day this summer. Continue Reading >HERE<
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