Free the tap

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A few nights ago, a local show brought me to the popular bar, 9one9. After ordering several drinks and feeling rather parched, I went to the bar for a glass of water. I was told by the bartender that, in accordance with the manager’s house rules, he could not give me one. I would have to buy a bottle for three bucks.

I was befuddled, but the worst part was, this wasn’t the first time I’d been exposed to this absurd policy. A few months prior, while partying at Hush, I was told the same thing: no free tap water.

Bars make their money by selling great quantities of diuretic substances. Is it not the responsibility of the owners to provide access to water, for the health and safety of their customers? Canadians typically pay $0.31 per cubic meter of water. That’s around $0.03 per glass. Not exactly bank-breaking. It’s an abomination that anyone would refuse thirsty patrons a moderate amount of water. What’s next, are they going to pump carbon dioxide into the air and charge us for oxygen?

Then, there are the well-known issues of bottled water: cancer-causing BPAs, environmental costs, corporations cashing in on a resource that should belong to citizens. But that’s a whole other rant.

The point is, charging for water is a cash grab. It’s unethical, and, quite frankly, it’s just plain rude. Anonymous bar owners hide behind bartenders who have to face the wrath of parched customers. (I’ve been one of them, and to the bartenders I cursed, I apologize.)

I encourage all of you bar-hoppers out there to cross these destinations off your list. Or, if social pressures are too strong and you find yourself an occupant of such an oppressive establishment, at least resist the urge to buy bottled water. Instead, request an empty glass to “pour your can of beer into,” and head to the washroom tap.

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