Dryden residents will vote next month on whether fluoride should be added to the municipal water supply.

The question will be put to voters in a byelection plebiscite slated for April 14.

The city issued a public notice this week to eligible voters, stating that the city will not be using vote-by-mail for this byelection. Instead, it will be conducted using a traditional method of voting, using a paper ballot.

Voter notification cards will be mailed to all qualified voters between March 25-31. They will indicate the voting locations, dates and times for the advance polls and voting day.

The ballot question will read as follows: “Are you in favour of the fluoridation of the public water supply of this municipality?”

It will be the second such plebiscite in a little more than two years.

Council‘s decision to take the matter back to the public comes after a group of citizens opposed to fluoridation presented a 1,200-name petition requesting the new plebiscite.

Under the Fluoridation Act, a plebiscite must be held if a petition is signed by 10 per cent of eligible voters. The act does not set a limit on the number of plebiscites that can be held.

Residents voted 1,428 to 1,111 in the last municipal election to add fluoride to the water system.

Council approved the result after the Northwestern Health Unit submitted a 1,114-name petition in favour of fluoridation.

The health unit maintains that fluoridation is a safe and cost-efficient way to reduce dental disease and the costs of dental care.

Opponents maintain there are ways to get fluoride other than through mass medication of residents via the municipal water system.

After approving the plebiscite result, the city authorized installation of a fluoride injection system and allocated about $300,000 for it in the 2007 budget, as well as a 10-per-cent increase in water and sewer charges to cover the costs.

In the Kenora-Rainy River region, Fort Frances, Kenora, Atikokan and Sioux Lookout have fluoridation units in their water treatment plants.

The Thunder Bay District Health Unit has no municipality in its jurisdiction that adds fluoride to water.