May 23, 2018 9:29 pm

Divided council approves healthier menus in Hamilton arenas and rec centres

Hamilton City Council has voted 9-to-6 in favour of a plan to increase healthy food options in arenas and recreation centres, while scaling back the sale of sugary snacks and drinks.

Nick Westoll / Global News

Ward 4 Coun. Sam Merulla says it “sounds great, looks great and does nothing but lose us money.”

That’s his prediction after Hamilton City Council, in a vote of 9-6, finalized a three-year plan to gradually reduce the sale of bottled water and sugary drinks at the city’s arenas and recreation centres.

READ MORE: Hamilton moves toward less bottled water, fewer sugary snacks in recreational facilities

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The Healthy Food and Beverage Action Plan, which calls for more healthy food and beverage choices in city facilities, is an attempt to address the obesity epidemic and the amount of plastic that ends up in landfills and the local watershed.

READ MORE: Healthy food, drink choices coming to Hamilton recreation facilities

Mayor Fred Eisenberger, one of the strategy’s most vocal supporters, says it’s about education and “informing people about how they can make better choices.”

He adds that if you don’t think it’s a public-health issue, then “some of us are sticking our heads in the sand.”

READ MORE: 34% of Canadian adults will be obese by 2025, and it will cost billions: report

Ward 8 Coun. Terry Whitehead is opposed to the plan citing three reasons — loss of consumer choice, lost revenue and he feels the city is missing the mark to address obesity by targeting arenas and recreation centres.

Merulla insists that it all starts at home “with what parents are teaching their children to consume.” He concluded by saying, “When you give me something real, I’ll vote for it,” and added, “I’m here to do something, not to pretend to do something.”

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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