Sales of bottled water have been halted at London, Ontario, at all of its municipal facilities, heralding the return of water fountains, despite beverage industry protests.
And similar bans are being considered elsewhere in the country, say local media, including in Vancouver, Ottawa and Kitchener, amid a public backlash against the higher cost and environmental impact of bottled water.
"We were selling bottled water for 1.75 dollars per liter right next to a public drinking fountain that dispensed water for less than an eighth of a cent (per liter)," Jay Stanford, director of the city's trash and recycling programs, told AFP.
London city council voted 14-3 in favor of the ban, citing environmentalists who say bottled water is an unnecessary extravagance that produces 150 times more greenhouse gases to distribute than tap water.
As well, experts note that municipal water supplies in Canadian cities are inspected more often than water-bottling plants, and that Canadian tap water generally is of very high quality, and safe.
A sudden spike in the amount of plastic water bottles ending up at London's recycling depots and trash dumps over the past two years and the council's desire to reduce waste also influenced its ruling, said Stanford.
But bottlers, such as US drink behemoth Coca-Cola, which sells bottled water under the label Dasani, lamented the decision. "It's hard to bring your kitchen sink with you," spokesman Scott Tabachnick told the Globe and Mail newspaper.
"To us, it's a matter of choice and a matter of personal preference," he said.
Per capita consumption of bottled water in Canada more than doubled to 60 liters in 2005 from less than 30 liters in 1998, according to the Beverage Marketing Corporation.
Bottled water sales, meanwhile, topped 650 million dollars (Canadian, US) last year.
To quench thirst, London will now install new water fountains at its properties, and has rolled out a mobile tanker to distribute water at its parks.