When Dorval Mayor Edgar Rouleau managed to wrangle consent from the Quebec government last December to let the city decide whether to resume fluoridation of the town’s drinking water, he thought it would only be a matter of a few months before fluoride would once again be flowing through the town’s water pipes.
In March, however, Rouleau learned that bureaucracy moves slowly. Ever the optimist, he predicted at that time that fluoridation would be back by June.
Now, Rouleau says it will likely take till the end of the year.
“There was a technical delay,” the mayor said last week. “We sent in the plans to the government and they were returned for adjustments.”
Rouleau added, however, that the plans and specifications were given the okay from the Quebec government just last week.
“So now we send the plans back to the health ministry for the final okay and then we can go to tender, finally,” he said. “It’s been a long road, but we are now finally back on track.”
Dorval had fluoridated its water for 50 years, until 2003, and stopped only because its equipment needed modernization.
When the city of Dorval tried to get permission to upgrade equipment to reintroduce fluoride to its water, the city of Montreal objected, claiming that Dorval – a demerged city – did not have the right to use a $400,000 provincial grant to update its fluoridation equipment.
Montreal has never fluoridated its water, even though the Quebec government supports the practice. At the time, a city spokesman maintained that the pros and cons of fluoridation continues to be debated in the scientific community.
But in December 2006, after much debate over the issue as well as lobbying by Marquette MNA François Ouimet, whose riding includes Dorval, the provincial government amended the law so that Dorval, and not Montreal’s island council, had the final say about fluoridation of its water.
Since fluoridation was stopped in Dorval in 2003, public health authorities said a study had shown that cavities had doubled among Dorval kindergarten students.
Rouleau said that, since the issue came to light, he has received only a handful of calls, almost all in favor of reintroducing fluoride to the city’s water.
© The Gazette (Montreal) 2007