Owen Sound voters will decide Oct. 27 if the city will continue to add fluoride to its drinking water.
City council passed a bylaw Monday night to approve holding a plebiscite on water fluoridation as part of the upcoming municipal election.
“I think that we need to put the question of fluoride in the water to the public,” Coun. David Adair said following the council meeting.
“There obviously is an interest to have it on the ballot.”
He said it “would be unreasonable” to require the public to secure enough signatures on a petition to trigger the plebiscite.
Owen Sound has been adding fluoride to its drinking water since 1965.
Since city electors voted in 1997 to support continuing with water fluoridation, Ontario law says another plebiscite is needed — with the opposite result — before it can end.
The plebiscite is to ask voters if Owen Sound should discontinue fluoridating its water. If more than 50% vote yes, the city must stop the practice.
City council heard from about a dozen people during a public meeting on the bylaw. About eight people urged council to hold the plebiscite.
However, some said they are concerned the question the city must ask the electorate, as legislated by the Fluoridation Act, is too confusing.
“Are you in favour of the discontinuance of the public water supply of this municipality?” is a double-negative, they said.
Dr. Hazel Lynn, Grey-Bruce’s medical officer of health, said she is not opposed to the city holding a plebiscite on water fluoridation, but cautioned people to base their vote on accurate, up-to-date information from reliable sources and not false, misleading or outdated data from special interest groups.
The Grey Bruce Health Unit plans to release educational materials, she said, to point people to “reliable information.”
Water fluoridation is supported by public health agencies and many dental practitioners as a way to prevent tooth decay.
Opponents say it is an outdated, ineffective practice that is not safe, poses a threat to human health and should not be forced on people.