After a long debate, a chemical dentists say prevents tooth decay is coming back to Gander’s drinking water.
The municipal works and services committee announced at the Nov. 26 regular council meeting fluoride will be reintroduced to the town’s water.
Fluoride had been a part of Gander’s water since the 1970s, but fluoride equipment was not included as part of the new water treatment plant constructed two years ago, due to the $100,000 price tag and concerns about the safety of the chemical.
Dr. Pat Redmond, a Gander dentist, has been a strong advocate for fluoride since the town stopped introducing it to its water.
“I’m very pleased that they’ve come to the decision that it’s a beneficial thing to have for the community,” he said.
The chemical won’t be added to water until the spring because the equipment purchase has to be approved as part of the 2009 budget.
Dr. Redmond said he understands the constraints town council is facing, and added the important thing is that council has acknowledged fluoride’s importance.
“It’s a long-term benefit,” he said. “The only problem now is coming up with the money for it. There’s also priorities as far as funding goes. They have to weigh the pros and cons of it.”
Coun. Dave Blundon, chair of the municipal works and services committee, said the decision was made when it was so the equipment could be added to the 2009 budget.
At the previous council meeting on Nov. 5, Coun. Blundon and Coun. Doug Foley, chair of the public safety committee, supported the idea of having a plebiscite, where the public would be given chance to vote for or against fluoride.
“We were going to wait for a plebiscite, and we looked at the pros and cons,” said Coun. Blundon. “It would take two or three months to do, then you’d say alright, good enough if it was positive. Then you’d have to go through another budget process. You’d be looking at probably 2011 before it would be implemented.”
Critics of fluoride argue it causes brain damage in children, and high amounts of fluoride can cause fluorosis, a staining of the teeth. Coun. Foley, who originally mentioned the plebiscite idea, said he would prefer to let the public decide.
“I’ve got to support the decisions of council, even though I didn’t agree with that one necessarily,” he said.
Coun. Foley, who also sits on the municipal works and services committee, said he’s willing to accept having no plebiscite after informally talking to a number of people in Gander, and found the vast majority wanted fluoride in the drinking water.
“Having said that, I still would have liked to have known how it went,” he said. “I might have just talked to people who were willing to come up and support me on it, because they knew I was in favour of it.”
“Ultimately, I was happy because I agree with fluoride. I saw far more pros than cons in regards to having it the water.
The amount of fluoride in the water will be less than before, due to a Health Canada report recommending the maximum be lowered from 1.0 parts per million 0.7 parts per million.
“It should be in there,” said Coun. Foley. “It should never have come out. I still felt we should have went ahead with the plebiscite, but there wasn’t any support for that on council.”