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Water for All! A Healthy Together Now Feature

Summer 2021

Water is key to staying safe and hydrated in the summer heat. Alison Moss, the director of Parkland Regional Library, saw firsthand the need for access to safe drinking water. Dauphin Public Library visitors would frequently ask staff for water, however the water fountain hadn’t worked in years. If they wanted to refill a bottle, they had to use the washroom sink. “We knew there was a gap,” said Alison. Since the building had been undergoing improvements throughout the past couple of years, staff thought it was the perfect time to apply for a Healthy Together Now grant to get a new water fountain installed.

Located on Main Street, the Dauphin Public Library is centrally located and easily accessible. The library boasts a public gathering area outside complete with picnic tables and a bike repair station, a previous Healthy Together Now funded project, which attracts many visitors to the area. The library offers several services to the public including access to books, information, computers, entertainment, and Wi-Fi. In most years, it also serves as an area to cool down in the summer heat thanks to the building’s air conditioning. Gathering inside the building is limited with the current Public Health restrictions, which makes access to water at the building even more important.  

Work was started to install the new water fountain once funds from the grant were received. A water bottle filling station was chosen as this would make it easy for people to take water for on the go. Staff ran into a slight bump in the road when the desired location was too close to a nearby electrical panel. There was concern that this would stop the project from getting off the ground, but Manitoba Hydro came and determined that by locking up the electrical panel and moving the water fountain a bit further away, the installation would be easy. The fountain was in working order by the end of June, just in time for the hot summer days to come.

In addition to providing safe water to community members, the project has a second goal of positively impacting the environment by reducing the use of disposable plastic water bottles. 50 reusable water bottles with the library’s name and address printed on them were purchased. The library chose to deliver the bottles to Under One Roof, a program run by the Dauphin Crisis Prevention Task Force out of the United Church in Dauphin, with Alison explaining that they “wanted to take another route at connecting with people who probably really need it.” Under One Roof is a safe space that provides meals and services for those facing homelessness, addictions, and poverty. Attached to each water bottle was a note inviting the owner to come fill their bottle at the library anytime, as well as information about the services offered at the library. As Alison explained, “This project became a way to connect with people who may not be connected to a library.” Another 50 reusable water bottles have been ordered, and with the extreme heat being experienced so far this summer, she hopes this will help keep this vulnerable population safe and increase library usage, saying “A library is for everyone. Everyone should feel welcome.”

Staff have expressed their approval of the project and 50 bottles worth of water has already been consumed from the fountain by staff members alone. Alison is excited to see that number increase as community members gain access, saying “We are very hopeful we will have the public back in here in the near future.” Throughout the restrictions, anyone can come to the front door of the library and ask for their bottle to be filled.

Interested in receiving funding for a project focused on healthy eating, physical activity, mental well-being or tobacco prevention and reduction in your community? Visit Prairie Mountain Health’s ‘Healthy Together Now’ page for more information on eligibility and how to apply.

Fountain

Water bottle fountain at the Dauphin Public Library.

Water bottle