The town will go back to fluoridating its water after council was convinced by dentists and medical experts Tuesday to not put the question to voters.
A motion by Councillor Doreen Ouellette to hold a plebiscite as part of the November municipal election didn’t even get a seconder to bring it to a vote. Then councillors voted unanimously to shelve a bylaw that would have eliminated fluoridation.
“Given the overwhelming support (for fluoridation) by the medical community, by the dental community, the board of health and worldwide, the evidence it provides a well-accepted benefit to our children, I can’t see us abandoning this,” said Councillor Tom Fuerth.
Councillor Joe Bachetti said that he had “grave concerns” about putting an important health issue on a plebiscite. Indeed, both sides — the citizens claiming fluoridated water has potential health risks and isn’t effective preventing tooth decay, as well as the dentists and doctors insisting it’s a vital public health tool — wanted council to make the decision, said Deputy Mayor Gary McNamara, one of the councillors who had his mind changed by the
Doctor Charles Franks, of the Ontario Dental Oncology Group, warned council that some of the information on the Internet raising alarms about fluoridation is not accurate. “I live in Tecumseh, my children live in Tecumseh,” he said. “I certainly wouldn’t ask you to put something in the water that is harmful.”
The town has fluoridated its water since 1969 after a 1968 plebiscite. But its fluoridation machinery was shut down in December 2001 after the Ministry of Labour condemned it as unsafe.
Tecumseh’s director of water Rob Filipov said he’ll approach the town’s water committee about what to do next. It can spend the $500,000 required for new machinery and building space immediately and fluoridation can resume in a matter of months, or wait for an expansion of the water treatment plant that won’t be complete until the end of 2004.