Consider Deal With Coke
The Star Phoenix
June 10, 2008
Saskatoon’s new west-side high schools could soon be
walking the Coca-Cola Corridor and sipping drinks
purchased from machines exclusively carrying Coke
A proposal is being considered by both school divisions
as well as the City of Saskatoon to enter into a
contract that would give the soft drink giant “pouring
rights,” making it the sole supplier of “all cold
beverage products” within Bethlehem High School, Tommy
Douglas Collegiate and the civic leisure facility
situated between them. The deal would also give Coke the
naming rights to a corridor linking the schools to the
adjoining facility, itself a corporately-named entity
known as the Shaw Centre.
“There will be some very strong discussion on this at
the boards level. It will be a lively one,” said Jim
Carriere, chair of the Greater Saskatoon Catholic
Schools board of education.
The board is being asked to make a decision on the
proposal during its regular meeting this evening.
Carriere was out of town for a few days and hadn’t yet
read the agenda. He would not comment on any specifics
of the recommendation but in general, school boards are
increasingly looking for corporate sponsorships to
counter growing expenses, he said.
“We need to be creative in exploring
partnerships/financial opportunities that would benefit
the division,” he said. “We are always looking for those
opportunities if they fit in with the general principles
of Catholic education.”
How an exclusive deal with Coke conforms with Catholic
pedagogy will be debated today.
“We will have to discuss what’s in it for them and
what’s in it for us,” said Carriere.
The pouring and naming rights “will help generate a
financial return to help offset capital construction
costs and provide operating funds for annual programs
and services,” states the formal agreement being
presented to the board.
Administrators in the division would not comment on the
matter before trustees had an opportunity to talk about
it at the table, said spokesperson Donella Hoffman.
“We don’t want to give out more information to the media
than the trustees know,” she said.
The public schools’ board of education is also meeting
today but the Coke contract is not on the agenda, said
spokesperson Joy Adams Bauer.
“I imagine the board would like to be making a decision
on it soon, though. The last meeting before the end of
the school year is June 24.”
The city’s executive committee will make a decision on
the matter at its next meeting on Monday. For the deal
to pass, all three partners must approve it, said Sandi
Schultz, integrated site manager for the city’s leisure
services department. If it fails with one organization,
it fails for all.
Should it pass, the city would receive the annual
payment from Coke as well as a vending commission, then
reimburse the partners at a predetermined cost share.
Neither the total value of the deal nor the amount each
partner would receive was disclosed.
The Saskatoon Food Coalition (SFC) has created a form
letter, made available to its member organizations, that
“strongly urges” the city and school boards to consider
the social and health-related implications of providing
monopoly rights to a soft drink corporation. A copy of
the letter, signed by one of its members, was included
in the public school board agenda and the correspondence
section of city council’s agenda package.
“It is inappropriate . . . to be endangering the health
of children and encouraging them to develop brand
loyalty in order to raise money for school needs,” the
letter states, further urging the city and school boards
to ensure the content of vending machines “reflects the
human right of access to nutritious, affordable and safe
The SFC membership includes CHEP, the Saskatoon Health
Region, Saskatoon Farmer’s Market, Oxfam, Saskatoon
Friendship Inn, United Way, National Farmers Union,
Quint Development Corporation and Saskatoon Food Bank.
Mayor Don Atchison believes the opposition is
overlooking the fact that not all Coke beverages are
made of sugar and syrup.
“They have nutritional products as well. There’s more
than just soft drinks,” he said.
Several student protests were held at schools around the
city in the early part of the decade when the
controversy over exclusivity contracts peaked in
Saskatoon. Since then things have been quiet. That may
be because it’s not such a foreign concept anymore,
making it more accepted.
Many civic facilities already have similar agreements,
noted Atchison. Credit Union Centre, TCU Place and
Holiday Park Golf Course sell only Pepsi-Cola drinks.
Over at Prairieland Park, the taps pour out all things
Coke. Even the city’s soccer centres have exclusivity
contracts with Coke or Pepsi.
If the current proposal is accepted, the vending
machines would be programmed to not dispense carbonated
drinks between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. during weekdays, said
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