Upgrades to the plant needed for fluoride to come back
PARRY SOUND – The fluoride topic is back in Parry Sound.
This time it’s a question on the fall municipal election ballot.
Nearly two years ago, the Town of Parry Sound overturned its June 2015 resolution for improvements to the Tony Agnello Water Treatment Pant; the upgrades were necessary to continue fluoridating the municipal water supply.
When the original report came to council in 2015, upgrades to the plant were in the neighbourhood of $250,000. The Town had been fluoridating its water since the 1960s.
After a lengthy period of debate that included a campaign by a group of concerned citizens, Parry Sounders for Progressive Water Management, fluoridation of the town’s water ended temporarily on March 18, 2016, under the condition that the question be posed on the 2018 municipal election ballot, asking Parry Sound ratepayers whether they want the town to continue to fluoridate their water.
A resolution was passed to put the question on the ballot during a January 2016 council meeting.
On Monday, Jan. 15, the town announced the date for the legislated public meeting that needs to be held prior to the passing of the bylaw.
“The question slated for the ballot that falls under the Fluoridation Act, the question is already in the act, we don’t get to figure out what (the question) is, they tell you what to ask. And that question will be answered and binding based on more than 50 per cent of the people who voted, depending on what the outcome is for that,” said town clerk Jackie Boggs during the Jan. 16 council meeting.
The question is, “Are you in favour of the discontinuance of the fluoridation of the public water supply of this municipality?”
If it turns out that more than 50 per cent of voters are not in favour of the discontinuation of fluoride, there is a chance it could be put back into the water supply, but not before the necessary upgrades are made to the water treatment plant.
Peter Brown, town director of public works, said today the costs are likely significantly more than the original $250,000 estimate.
“I suspect it will (cost) considerably more than that because the piping has sat stagnant for a couple of years and prices are always changing and going up as far as equipment goes. The cost of fluoride may have gone up, I don’t know,” Brown said. “We haven’t really invested any time and energy into the consideration of bringing it back, because there was no indication that there was. Fast forward to 2018 and we have an election coming up – I guess we’re going to have to start thinking about it.”
Although the February 20 meeting is merely a formality, Joe Moloney, member of Parry Sounders for Progressive Water Management, said he and group members will attend.
“It’s the ratepayers’ decision and right now we want to make sure that they have all of the information and up-to-date research on this issue in order to make an informed decision about their health,” Moloney said Jan. 16. “We look forward to working with independent research scientists and making these people and their information and evidence available to the people of Parry Sound.”
North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit public health physician Dr. Jim Chirico, who first spoke out against fluoride’s removal on Oct. 6, 2015, said he wouldn’t be attending the public meeting, but would offer his comments, once again to council.
“If your child had an important health issue, would you base your treatment decision for your child on what the majority of your neighbours thought?” Chirico said in a written statement. “I doubt that you would. You would seek the advice of trusted medical experts – your dentist, you family doctor, your nurse practitioner and you would’t rely on doctor Google.”
Chirico said health decisions need to be based on credible science, not popular opinion, pseudo-science or internet myths from anti-fluoridation groups with their own personal agendas.
“When all of the scientific evidence is considered – both positive and negative – the science is solid. Adding fluoride to municipal drinking water is effective in reducing cavities for children and adults, is safe and cost effective,” Chirico said. “If the public wants to be properly informed, I encourage you to speak to your dentist, your family doctor, or nurse practitioner. If you choose to search the internet, go to reliable, trustworthy websites of unbiased organizations … parents have a lot of things to worry about, but many decades of research have demonstrated that fluoridation isn’t one of them.”
Finally, Chirico sai che doesn’t agree with the decision to remove fluoride from the municipal drinking system.
“By removing fluoride you will be turning your backs on the most vulnerable an disadvantaged in your community. It will be your children, your poor and your elderly that will be the ones suffering physically, mentally and financially,” he said. “This is an opportunity for your council and community to show leadership, compassion and courage by not giving in to a vocal minority and by not abandoning the practice of relying upon the expertise of respected public health, dental, medical and scientific organizations; but rather, that council and the community affirm its confidence in their integrity and recommendations and support the ongoing fluoridation of the municipal drinking water system.”
The public meeting is slated for Feb. 20, at 7 p.m. during the regular council meeting inside the Town of Parry Sound council chambers. Written submissions can be provided to the clerk on or before 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 16.
*Original article online at https://www.parrysound.com/news-story/8078321-fluoride-related-question-slated-for-parry-sound-voters-ballot/