The mayor of Dorval contends the Montreal island council is blocking his city’s plan to put fluoride back into its drinking water.
The provincial government has given Dorval the $400,000 the West Island suburb needs to upgrade its water filtration system to reintroduce fluoride.
But, according to Dorval Mayor Edgar Rouleau, the island council is holding up the money and Dorval’s plan to bring back fluoride. “They found a loophole,” an angry Rouleau charged yesterday.
Since Dorval needs a new fluoride tank, pumps and monitors so it can add fluoride to its water supply, the island council contends it – and not Dorval – has the final say on fluoridation.
The island council is responsible for overseeing Montreal Island’s water infrastructure and other major services.
“It’s not acceptable,” Rouleau said. “People in Dorval want fluoride.”
For 50 years, until 2003, Dorval added fluoride to its drinking water and stopped only because its equipment needed modernizing, he explained.
Though municipalities across the province add fluoride to their drinking water and the Quebec government supports the practice, the city of Montreal has never fluoridated its water.
“It’s a big disappointment,” said Francois Ouimet, the Liberal MNA for the Marquette riding and a longtime supporter of Dorval’s fluoridation drive.
“It’s about who has the decision-making power.”
Ouimet, whose riding includes Dorval, said he had been assured by Quebec’s departments of Municipal Affairs and Health and Social Services that a provincial decree gave Dorval the right to bring back fluoridated water.
Calls for Dorval to resume fluoridation stepped up this summer after a study of Dorval kindergarten pupils found the number of cavities had doubled since Dorval stopped adding fluoride to its drinking water in 2003. But now, Ouimet said, it appears “it’s up to the agglomeration council to give the green light.”
Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay supports the island council’s position, Darren Becker, a spokesperson for Tremblay, said yesterday. (The city of Montreal holds 87 per cent of voting power on the island council.)
The usefulness of fluoridation continues to be debated in the scientific community, Becker said, and until its safety is proved it’s best not to add fluoride to drinking water.