The City of Cranbrook has confirmed that there will be a referendum question on fluoridation of the water supply on the municipal election ballot in November.

At the Monday, April 7, regular council meeting, Mayor Wayne Stetski said he was asked about the issue at the mayor’s brown bag lunch on March 19.

“The question came up on a referendum on fluoridation, and there will be a referendum question as part of the election next fall,” Stetski said during council.

On Wednesday, Mayor Stetski further elaborated on the topic, noting that a proposed referendum question would be brought before council for approval, tentatively set for the May 12 meeting, but said there wasn’t anything more specific he could say about it.

“What we have confirmed is our interest in bringing this forward as a referendum question as part of the November 15, 2014 municipal election,” he said.

“The addition of fluoride to Cranbrook’s drinking water was originally approved by Cranbrook residents through a referendum several decades ago, so it makes sense to ask them if they want to continue the practice or not into the future.

“I’m sure that there will be strong arguments on both sides of the question based on comments I’ve received from residents.”

In March, back at the mayor’s brown bag lunch, Cranbrook resident Brian Kostiuk asked if it was true that the city has hired a contractor to deliver an education campaign to residents regarding fluoridated water. Kostiuk thought the contract ought to go out for bid.

Kostiuk feels that fluoride is unsafe and should not be in the drinking water.

Back in September 2012, Kostiuk and fellow resident Brad Brehm went before council as a delegation to ask that it reexamine the practice of adding fluoride to the municipal water supply.

Then in August 2013, Slocan resident Kevin Millership brought a class action lawsuit against the city seeking damages for dental fluorosis. In 2003, Millership took the province to court seeking damages for fluorosis he developed as a child from drinking fluoridated water. The case established causation, according to documents, but the claims were barred by the Limitations Act, which limits the amount of time people are able to sue.

Millership had said he brought the case forward in Cranbrook because his daughter was going to be staying with family here and he didn’t want her drinking the fluoridated water.

In November 2013, the City of Cranbrook confirmed that it was in the process of settling the lawsuit with Millership.

At that time Millership told the Townsman that he had asked for the city to hold a referendum in November 2014, preceded by a process of education and consultation.

The city wouldn’t comment on the settlement, other than confirming that it was taking place.

Cranbrook’s fluoridation program has been in place since 1967.

The city is one of only six municipalities that still adds fluoride to the water supply, the others are Sparwood, Prince George, Fort St. John, Prince Rupert and Terrace.

Millership recently filed a class action lawsuit similar to the one here against the City of Prince George. City of Prince George representatives confirmed to the Prince George Citizen that there would be a referendum there in November as well.