Terry Myland says he will stand outside stores and ask passersby to sign a petition if need be to force Owen Sound to hold a public vote in 2014 on whether or not to continue adding fluoride to its drinking water.
The retired Owen Sound resident said he has serious concerns about the health risks of the practice and wants the question put to the electorate.
“With all that’s happened since the last plebiscite 16 years ago, it’s time to raise it again and give an opportunity for the voters of Owen Sound to have their voice heard,” he said Tuesday.
He said a lot of new anti-fluoride information has come to light since 1997 when Owen Sound electors voted 4,633 to 3,097 in favour of continuing water fluoridation.
Because of that decision, another plebiscite is needed before the practice can be stopped, according to the Fluoridation Act.
There are two ways to add the yes/no question to ballots as part of the 2014 municipal election.
Council can decide to hold a plebiscite and authorize a bylaw by April 30.
A petition calling for one and signed by at least 10% of Owen Sound voters can be delivered to city hall by June 1.
Owen Sound has been adding fluoride to its water supply since 1965. It is now the only municipality in Grey-Bruce that adds fluoride to its drinking water.
City council voted in 2011 to begin a public process to review the practice.
A date has now been set for a public meeting. It is slated for Jan. 20, likely at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre. A time has not yet been confirmed.
The Grey Bruce Health Unit plans to address the city’s operations advisory committee at the meeting. Public health staff intend to present information on the benefits of adding fluoride to drinking water as a way to prevent tooth decay.
Myland said he hopes to schedule an anti-fluoride expert to speak at the meeting. Failing that, he said he will present evidence himself that he says proves fluoride, in the amounts added to city water, can be harmful to human health.
“There’s enough questions raised with using that process because it actually is like a medicine but it’s used for everybody, whether they need it or not,” he said.
Fluoride is added to about 76% of community water systems in Ontario. Only 7% of communities with public water systems in Quebec add fluoride to their water.
Thirty-five Ontario communities have removed fluoride from their water since 2000.
It costs Owen Sound about $15,000 a year to add fluoride to its water.
Water fluoridation is supported by public health agencies and many dental practitioners as a way to reduce tooth decay.
Grey-Bruce medical officer of health Dr. Hazel Lynn has said people living in poverty suffer most when the practice is discontinued. She said she will present at the public meeting tooth decay rates among children from Owen Sound versus children in other Grey-Bruce communities.
Opponents of fluoridation say it is an outdated, ineffective practice that is not safe and poses a threat to human health and the environment.