PARRY SOUND — (UPDATE: Sept. 24, 11:30 a.m.) The town came under fire by a local anti-fluoride group for hosting a fluoride-related public meeting next month calling the move “election influencing.”
However, because both sides will not be represented, the Town of Parry Sound cancelled the public meeting on Sept. 24. In an email Town of Parry Sound clerk Jackie Boggs said according to Municipal Affairs and Housing, both sides must be in attendance in order to comply with the Municipal Elections Act.
While North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit medical officer of Health/executive director Dr. Jim Chirico or a representative was available to speak on Oct 2, the Parry Sounders for Progressive Water Management’s representative Dr. Hardy Limeback was unavailable.
In March 2016 the Town of Parry Sound approved the removal of fluoride from its drinking water after nearly a year of debates and discussions.
In a recorded vote, all members of council except for Coun. Bonnie Keith were in favour of removing fluoride from the town’s water.
In January, the town also approved putting the question “Are you in favour of the fluoridation of the public water supply of this municipality?” on the ballot for the Oct. 22 municipal election.
If a majority of ratepayers want fluoride reinstated into the drinking water, upgrades will need to be made to the Tony Agnello Water Treatment Plant. Costs for the upgrades in 2015 were approximately $250,000. That cost today, said Peter Brown, town of Parry Sound director of public works, would be substantially higher.
At its Sept. 18 meeting the town approved hosting a public meeting during its Oct. 2 council meeting, allowing representatives from both sides of the issue, as well as members of the public the opportunity to speak.
Boggs, said although a public information session could be held, allowing both sides the opportunity to speak, it wouldn’t give any members of the community the same opportunity and suggested a public meeting instead.
“What I was trying to do was to get each side to have two formal speakers who provide some information to the public — they would have 10 minutes — and then after that the audience could ask questions or provide their own statement,” she said. “I think this is important because we haven’t seen a lot of momentum on this, considering we’ve seen a lot of movement in 2016.”
On Sept. 19 Parry Sounders for Progressive Water Management chair Joe Moloney said the town should not be holding a public meeting and said someone on council is overstepping their bounds.
Dr. Chirico declined a public debate with Dr. Limeback earlier this year.
“(Dr. Chirico is) not willing to do a proper debate but (the health unit) is willing to come in at the last minute and try and drop these fear tactics on everybody. It’s not right and they should be stopped,” Moloney said. “They should have to get out and do their damn leg work like we have to. We’ve got 2,000 flyers we’re going to be delivering door to door in the next week that we’ve paid for out of our pocket.”
The group has also rented space inside the Parry Sound Public Library for an information session on Sept. 26 with Limeback.
On Sept. 24 Moloney said his group was unable to secure their representative, Dr. Limeback, on such short notice and said allowing him just 10 minutes of “anecdotes” would not be enough time to speak on such a complex issue.
“To get (Dr. Limeback) on such short notice would be impossible and I am not going to speak on the issue, because I am not an expert in the field,” he said.
Moreover, Moloney added that he doesn’t believe it is the municipality’s job to ensure its voters were well-versed on the subject of fluoridation.
“It’s not their job as employees and councillors of the town to decide how much movement there should be on any given election issue; that’s up to those two sides – it has nothing to do with the town,” he said. “It’s not their job to decide how it’s talked about.”
*Original article online at https://www.parrysound.com/news-story/8911940-anti-fluoride-group-opposes-parry-sound-public-meeting-on-issue/