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January 22, 2015

Water Haller - Lots of Learning and a Lot of Laughs: Window on Ottawa 2014

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If you didn’t attend our last Window on Ottawa, you might have heard us laughing from where you were. After a wonderful day of learning, our delegates were thoroughly entertained by Canada’s funniest stand-up comedian, Ron James – celebrating World Toilet Day of course.

We like to refer to the Window on Ottawa as our "signature" event as it is so different from most other events. It is not a conference but a very unique two-day workshop focused on water/wastewater issues at the federal level. If you want to stay on top of what is happening at the national scene that will affect municipal utilities, this is the opportunity. And this year’s event did not disappoint.

Delegates received updates on financing from Infrastructure Canada, P3 Canada and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM). We heard strategies to address climate change from Natural Resources Canada, the Insurance Bureau of Canada and the Standards Council. We heard about public awareness efforts like RBC’s Blue City projects, Canadian Water Network, and CWWA then updates on recent and emerging regulations from Environment Canada, Health Canada and the Public Health Agency followed by information from Statistics Canada. We also discussed security issues with representatives from Public Safety Canada and Defense Research & Development Canada and a look at the WARN program. Delegates also heard about all of CWWA’s efforts at the national level including our work on addressing the issue of flushable wipes. My favorite session (and I may be biased as I was the moderator) was one on advocacy efforts in Canada and the US, with guest speakers from both the AWWA and WEF offices in Washington, and from our own FCM here in Canada – a fascinating look at how our water sector tries to influence decision-making.

So what was with Ron James and World Toilet Day? Even we at the Canadian Water and Wastewater Association did not realize that November 19th was World Toilet Day, but that was the day we scheduled our national event. Meanwhile, the Global Poverty Project, part of the Global Citizen movement, was launching their campaign to promote safe access to toilets around the world. The timing of our Window event could not have been better, so we got a call from their spokesperson in Canada, none other than comedian Ron James. So Ron appeared before our roomful of sanitary professionals and had us all falling out of our seats with his intentionally targeted "toilet" humour. Their goal in Canada is to raise the appreciation of wastewater systems in Canada and how they protect our environment and quality of life and, in so doing, promote support for the need for toilets for all people in all nations. CWWA is proud to be their partner in this effort.

So now have I sparked your interest in attending the Window in Ottawa in 2015? Well too bad, you can’t!  As part of our CWWA event strategy, we will defer the next Window event until the spring of 2016. (See related article in this e-Bulletin for more details.)   


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