A handful of district councillors tried unsuccessfully to silence anti-fluoridation lobbyists.
District of Muskoka council was torn about hearing another presentation against municipal water fluoridation, but it eventually decided on Monday, Sept. 16, that it would allow a delegation on the subject at its October meeting.
Georgian Bay coun. Paul Wianko argued against hearing the delegation.
“As a councillor, I feel like I’m being harassed on the issue. We get emails almost weekly. I do read some of them, but I’ve also asked to be removed from the list. There doesn’t seem to be any way to get removed for the list,” said Wianko. “I don’t think this group will be presenting any new information. Council made a decision on this – and it was quite unanimous – back about a year or so ago. I think we should stick to that decision.”
Residents lobbied district council about two years ago to stop fluoridation, but after presentations from residents, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit and others, council decided to continue fluoridation.
Huntsville coun. Fran Coleman said she did not agree that the group was harassing councillors.
“Citizens have a right and we as councillors need to hear their concerns. A year or more has passed since they did come to us,” said Coleman. “I would suggest we give them the opportunity, as citizens of our community, to come forward and address their concerns about fluoride in our water.”
She noted that fluoridation is becoming a hot topic in other communities as well.
Other councillors commented that residents have a democratic right to speak to their elected officials and those elected officials had an obligation to listen.
But Lake of Bays mayor Bob Young suggested there may be a limit.
“I’d say in this situation, enough is enough,” said Young.
He said he has programmed his email to file the group’s correspondence as junk mail.
“I think we’ve heard it, we’ve made a decision. Basically, they’re saying they don’t like the decision we made,” said Young. “If they wish to, there will be another council in a year. Bring it forward. But I don’t think there is anything new I wish to hear.”
Bracebridge mayor Graydon Smith then suggested the delegation would be better suited for the engineering and public works committee, which deals with municipal water.
But Ruth Bednar, a member of Muskoka Citizens Opposing Fluoridation, explained that the two people speaking at the delegation would not be able to attend the midday committee meeting.
District council meetings are held in the evening.
Council debated the issue for more than 20 minutes, which frustrated some councillors.
“We’ve now spent 25 minutes debating something that would have taken us 10 minutes, if we had just given the people what they want to begin with,” said Bracebridge coun. Scott Young. “It’s starting to smell like an attempt to frustrate and obstruct the message the people want to bring us.”
Muskoka Lakes mayor Alice Murphy said she was embarrassed council had spent so much time on the issue.
“Let’s just let people delegate,” said Murphy.
Council eventually voted 18-3 in favour of hearing the delegation on Oct. 21.