The decision aldermen make next month on fluoride will directly affect more than 65,000 people who will have no say on the issue because they live outside Calgary’s borders.
Residents in Airdrie, Chestermere and Strathmore have their tap water piped in from Calgary’s system, which means the future of their fluoridation rests on the judgment of their large urban neighbour’s council.
There’s been no formal move to consult with the politicians whose towns are Calgary water customers. But leaders of those bedroom communities say the issue simply hasn’t come up on their radar.
“We haven’t had anybody call in and question it at this point in time,” Strathmore Mayor Steve Grajczyk said Thursday, a day after a marathon public hearing in front of Calgary aldermen saw dozens of experts and ordinary citizens grapple with the health and ethical issues surrounding fluoride-treated water.
“Myself, I don’t see a concern, but I could be wrong. We’d have to delve in a lot deeper and see what it’s all about.”
Airdrie Mayor Peter Brown attended this week’s fluoride hearing, but didn’t go up to speak. His city of nearly 40,000 people is Calgary’s largest municipal water customer.
The only way Airdrie could resist the Calgary decision would be to find another water source. Fred Burley, the city’s deputy mayor, said he’s only ever received a handful of e-mails on either side of the debate.
“If it’s not a concern with our residents at this time, we’re just listening and learning,” he said.
In Calgary, Ald. Ray Jones said if neighbours take Calgary’s water, they have to take whatever comes with it.
“We’re serving Calgarians, and the 1.1 million people we’ve been elected to represent,” said Ald. Druh Farrell, who has led the anti-fluoride push. Her side seems likely to win, although Mayor Naheed Nenshi’s bid to let a panel of experts tackle the issue first has the support of many.
If it’s an issue worth discussing, neighbouring mayors could bring it up with Nenshi or address it through the Calgary Regional Partnership, said Patrick Bergen, Chestermere’s deputy mayor.
He also said it’s not an issue his council has ever considered, or one he’s thought much about.
“Chestermere is a rapidly growing place, and there are a lot of other issues that keep us busy,” Bergen said.
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