Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley wants residents to have a vote on fluoride. He is recommending the city have a plebiscite about the controversial compound included on the next civic-election ballot.
Bradley said whether or not to fluoridate drinking water is a “perennial issue” in many Canadian cities.
“I’ve been on 10 different councils and every council term this issue comes up,” he said.
Bradley said the results would be non-binding, but would let council know how the public felt about the issue.
In 2013, Sarnia city council voted 5-4 in favour of getting rid of fluoride. The decision changed nothing, however. Sarnia is one of six municipalities to get their water from the Lambton Area Water Supply System (LAWSS). Fluoride is added to the water at one central water treatment plant, and the water is then pumped to the different municipalities. Unless four of those six municipalities vote to get ride of the controversial compound, the water continues to be fluoridated.
Susan MacFarlane is general manager at LAWSS.
“We’ve had many votes over the years,” said Susan MacFarlane, general manager at LAWSS, adding that they’ve always had fluoride at the plant.
Bradley said the last vote taken on fluoride at LAWSS ended in a 3-3 vote.
Fluoride since 1971
Bradley said there hasn’t been a referendum on fluoride in Sarnia since 1971, when it was decided to add it to the water.
“Sarnia back in the 50s and 60s, kids here had terrible teeth and it was the dentists who pushed for fluoride being in the water,” he said. “Things have changed.”
Bradley said he supports keeping fluoride in the water.
“However, I also respect that the next council, when it does come back up, should have the right to know what the public speaks,” he said, adding the that a bonus of having a ballot question is that it can increase voter turnout.
“We’ve had ballot questions in the past that have brought people out to vote specifically on that issue, and then hopefully they vote for mayor and council,” he said.