The thorny debate over fluoride isn’t likely to be settled for at least a year, says the chair of the board that runs the local water system.

Sarnia city councillor Terry Burrell, who also serves as Lambton Area Water Supply System (LAWSS) chair, said he doesn’t expect the debate will end before a report into fluoride use is finished by Health Canada.

And that report hasn’t been started and will likely take a year to prepare.

“Hopefully, sometime this (council) term we’ll make a decision,” Burrell said.

But that decision might not have the impact some councillors had hoped, according to a legal opinion received at Monday meeting. The document, from law firm Aird & Berlis, backs up a previous opinion sought by the Lambton Area Water Supply System (LAWSS) board.

A simple majority of municipal councils that are members of the system can pass by-laws requesting the cavity-fighting chemical be removed and it would have to be under provincial law.

LAWSS has six members, Sarnia, Point Edward, Lambton Shores, Plympton-Wyoming, Warwick and St. Clair Township.

The city of Sarnia, which uses most of the water, would have only one vote.

That seems unfair, said Coun. Anne Marie Gillis, who herself is not a proponent of fluoride use.

“I am concerned that four municipalities can take it out when they’re not the majority of the people,” she said.

City council will have to tackle the issue sooner or later, said Coun. Andy Bruziewicz. He urged council to take a stand and not to let the issue drag on.

“We can’t just wait forever for Health Canada,” he said. “This council will have to take a position.”

Burrell said he’s happy with the decision of the LAWSS board, which has decided to wait for the Health Canada report. It wants the debate over fluoride to be made based on science, he said.

“If Health Canada does this study we should have the best and most reliable information coming back to us at the time,” Burrell said.