The recent tall ship festival was a wonderful event at Canalside. This was the type of family friendly event envisioned by the community when it pushed the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation away from the magic pill, mega retailer fix, to the current incremental additions that make this an increasingly popular regional attraction.
With ship access limited to paying passport holders, many issues were apparent in Friday’s 90-degree temperatures. The long lines waiting to access the ships were forced to wait on the shadeless, hot boardwalk with no access to water (but, to be fair, a vendor did come later in our stay.) In addition, the event coordinators limited water to sealed bottles only into the limited access areas, eliminating the option to bring our insulated reusable water bottles to stay hydrated. It was surprising that no one was carried out with heat stroke during the hour-and-a-half wait just to get on the boats.
Selling water in plastic bottles is now so much a part of our culture, but a huge waste issue at any large-scale event. I issue a challenge to Canalside, special events in the City of Buffalo and Erie County (including the fair), and any other large scale gathering. Let’s start vending water in an environmentally friendly way. Stop selling water in plastic single-use bottles! Sell reusable water bottles imprinted with your organization or event that people can take away and reuse and sell cold filtered water to fill the containers.
Canalside is a celebration of water. The site, at the western end of the Erie Canal, changed the sleepy Village of Buffalo into a world-class city. It would be a great place to start freeing our drinking water from the single-use plastic bottle and reduce our waste at public events.
John S. Szalasny