HUNTSVILLE – Some District of Muskoka councillors seem to be getting tired of the fluoridation debate.
Ruth and Richard Bednar were temporarily delayed in giving a deputation on fluoridation during the Monday, June 6, district council meeting as Lake of Bays mayor Bob Young protested to yet another presentation on the topic.
“We’ve had many (presentations) before, both for and against, at this council, and committees have also discussed it at length,” said Young. “We have heard the story, we’ve made our decision.”
Debates on fluoridation have been ongoing in the region for years, but a string of presentations and letters to district council in regard to the presence of the substance in municipal drinking water began in earnest this March.
After hearing from the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, the district’s engineering and public works committee decided in April to continue fluoridating the region’s water.
In response to Young, Huntsville Coun. Fran Coleman spoke in favour of hearing the Bednars.
“While I concur to some degree with Coun. Young’s comments, we have not heard from the Bednars before,” said Coleman. “The community, as individuals, have a right to address this council.”
According to the engineering and public works committee minutes, the Bednars’ deputation request to that committee was denied on May 18.
Although seven of a possible 23 councillors opposed hearing the presentation, the request was approved and Ruth Bednar began to speak in opposition to fluoridation. She commented on the growing support of international health professionals to end fluoridation practices, stating that the substance is a topical medication not meant to be ingested.
Fluoride has no bodily benefit and when taken internally it can deplete calcium, subsequently weakening teeth and bones, she said.
Bednar then showed half of an approximately 30-minute video produced by the Fluoride Action Network, which reiterated her points.
In her closing remarks, Bednar commented on the negative environmental impact of fluoridating water on aquatic life.
“I’m asking you to reconsider discontinuing our … water fluoridation,” she concluded.
Deputy chair and Bracebridge Coun. Scott Young commented that council had heard many compelling arguments, including Bednar’s, and asked whether she and her husband had approached the board of health.
When Bednar said she had tried to do so, deputy chair Young suggested staff see whether the board of health was having the same vigorous debate as was council, which would ensure each group had the same information.
Coleman suggested she would like to see an open debate between both sides of the argument. She also said she was concerned that fluoridating water may be in opposition to the rights of individuals and wanted more information on that subject.
Georgian Bay Coun. Mike Kennedy, a board of health member who supports fluoridation, said he would be happy to take the matter back to the board, though he commented that he thought the issue had “run its course.”