Councillors voted Monday night to request medical officer of health Paul Roumeliotis appear at city hall and advocate for a return to municipal water fluoridation.
Cornwall’s water has been without fluoride for more than two years after a faulty valve at the water treatment plant forced officials to stop adding hydrofluorosilicic acid to the system. In that time councillors have been back and forth over the issue several times.
Coun. Andre Rivette, who also sits as a member of the Eastern Ontario Health Unit board, was successful in getting support to request Roumeliotis’ presence.
“It’s something that’s been on the books for a long time…and it needs to be addressed,” said Rivette.
Council has at least four options, including the potential for a referendum, to address the issue of fluoridating the Cornwall water supply. While a referendum may be palatable to some, if it is planned prior to the next municipal election the cost balloons to $150,000, instead of the cheaper $10,000 option for voting day.
Councillors would also have to wade into the phrasing of a question.
Also on the list of options will be creating of an online survey or some other form of information session, a public debate with invited guest speakers on each side of the topic and a public feedback session/open house.
Councillors have also requested the presence of those opposed to the idea of fluoridated water to make their opinions known as well.
“I would like to see both sides make a presentation, rather than just hear from Dr. Paul,” said Coun. Claude McIntosh, who added he has not made up his mind which way to vote on the subject.
But Rivette said he wants experts in the field, but not those with a political agenda.
“If you’re bringing me business people who don’t want to spend the money…that’s a different story,” said Rivette.
Coun. Elaine MacDonald agreed.
“What we need here is an expert in medical opinion,” she said. “There are many people who are opposed to it, but when it comes to their credentials…our medical officer of health stands behind this.”
It would cost taxpayers $300,000 in up-front costs and $50,000 annually to return to water fluoridation in Cornwall.