Brad Clark wants Hamilton residents to decide if the city should continue to put fluoride in their drinking water.
The Ward 9 councillor wants the question put to voters in the municipal election late next year. He plans to introduce a motion at the Nov. 6 general issues committee of council next week to debate the issue in the next two to four weeks.
“Water is really a basic human right,” he told The Spectator. “The city shouldn’t be putting something in the water without asking the people who are using it.”
He wants the Oct. 27, 2014, municipal ballot to include a referendum asking: Are you in favour of continuing fluoridation of the public water supply of the City of Hamilton?
Clark acknowledges city council has debated the controversial fluoridation issue “a number of times in my two terms, and yet, everywhere I go, someone expresses concern about the fluoride in the water, that it causes problems for autism. … There seems to be a significant number in the community who are opposed.”
That significant number strongly believes fluoridation creates more hindrances than benefits, he said.
“When people are nervous about fluoride and it’s not necessary to water, it’s fair game to ask the question.”
The Ontario Fluoridation and Municipal Elections Acts both allow the referendum and, since the question hasn’t been on the ballot since the 1960s, it’s time to ask it again, Clark argues.
While Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and fluoride advocates say it cuts tooth decay that can lead to gum disease — which has also been linked to heart disease — opponents are concerned it is linked to problems with bone health, autism and even cancer, Clark said.
Too much fluoride can also damage tooth enamel, he added.
Clark points out other municipalities have debated the issue, with some, such as Toronto, deciding in 2011 to continue fluoridation and others, such as Waterloo in a 2010 referendum, choosing to discontinue the practice.
Calgary, Windsor and Moncton have also removed fluoride from their water supply, he said.