It might not be decision day on fluoridation after all.

Council should delay its debate on removing fluoride from Calgary water to hold a public hearing on the issue later this month, Ald. Druh Farrell said Monday morning.

The alderman leading the anti-fluoride side had gathered signatures from nine of her 14 colleagues backing her pitch. A simple council vote Monday could have triggered the fairly bureaucratic process of ending Calgary’s 20 years of using the additive that’s meant to prevent tooth decay.

Amid the re-emergence decades-old debate about fluoridation’s health and social impacts, Farrell said she’ll propose settling the issue after experts and others make their appeals to a public hearing at a Jan. 26 committee meeting.

People want the opportunity to express their point of view,” she said in an interview before the council meeting.

Farrell said she had been under the mistaken impression that Alberta Environment, which must authorize a change to Calgary’s water licence nixing fluoridation, would do public consultations.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi, one of five council members not backing Farrell’s motion, said it made little sense for the city to end fluoridation without a proper public input.

But the Ward 7 alderman doesn’t want a plebiscite on the matter, like the 1989 vote that ushered fluoride-treated water in Calgary and the 1998 plebiscite upholding that decision.

Medical authorities say fluoride is a cost-effective and safe way to bolster dental hygiene.

Some doctors and scientists in the anti-fluoride movement maintain there are health risks, and many people question the idea of mass-medicating via the water system.