Fluoride will not be flowing through the pipes as regional council defeated a motion to have it reinstated at the Welland water treatment facility.
Welland Regional Coun. George Marshall had hoped to gain enough support around the table for his motion for what he said was the “legal and moral obligation” of the region.
The local treatment facility, which serves Welland, Pelham and parts of Thorold hasn’t had fluoride in its system since 1999, but council was not aware of that fact until 2006. Council was informed by legal counsel in order to formally cease or reinstate fluoride, a bylaw would need to be passed.
“I’m not going to point fingers, I want a remedy,” said Marshall. “Information came out in crumbs and we didn’t have the bulk of information when we needed to make a decision (at the last meeting on fluoride). … We made it into the monster it is.”
Pelham Regional Coun. Brian Baty said the fact that the fluoride was stopped and no one noticed, was “an embarrassment” and supported the motion. Pelham Mayor Dave Augustyn also supported the move.
Either way, Welland Regional Coun. Cindy Forster, who seconded Marshall’s motion, said she supported the region re-establishing fluoride but if it wasn’t supported by council she suggested a future referendum. The referendum, she said, would allow residents of Niagara to voice their opinion.
Regional staff told council that the reason an “all in or all out ” approach to fluoride was recommended at the fluoride meeting in January was to avoid problems when the Welland facility is connected to Niagara Falls and Port Colborne in the future, which could be anywhere from three to 10 years, depending on growth.
By connecting the systems, fluoride would migrate into into other communities, said public works commissioner Ken Brothers, which in itself creates a slew of issues.
Niagara Falls Regional Coun. Bill Smeaton said to go ahead with fluoride in Welland would eventually “be a nightmare to control” as far as stopping the fluoride from mixing into the water systems in Niagara Falls, a city that doesn’t support fluoride, he said.
To reinstate Welland’s facility, would cost $200,000 for capital work and $60,000 annual operating costs that would’ve been borne by the region.
At past meetings, Marshall said council was provided numbers from $115 million to $17 million then to the $200,000 figure to put fluoride back in Welland.
Port Colborne Mayor Vance Badawey said before he could vote on the matter, he wanted to hear from Mayor Damian Goulbourne on whether or not city council was supportive of reinstating fluoride.
“My council has not passed a motion asking for this … I’ve been given no direction to support this,” said Goulbourne, adding that he had remained silent on the topic because he didn’t want to disagree with Marshall.
Thorold Regional Coun. Robert Gabriel said supporting fluoride for the Welland facility would be giving the wrong message to the public since only two weeks ago they voted down regionwide fluoride.
“We need to look forward not back,” said Gabriel.
The motion was defeated and a bylaw officially ceasing fluoride from the water system was passed.