The local water board decided Friday to continue adding fluoride to local drinking water.
The vote followed months of discussion by the body that provides drinking water to Sarnia, Point Edward, St. Clair Township, Plympton-Wyoming, Lambton Shores and Warwick Township.
Board members from Sarnia, Point Edward and Plympton-Wyoming voted Friday in favour of continuing to add fluoride, following the direction set by their municipal councils.
“My council voted to leave it in,” said Point Edward Mayor Dick Kirkland, who has said he personally opposes the practice.
St. Clair Township council voted some time ago to ask the board to stop adding fluoride, and Mayor Steve Arnold cast the lone vote against the status quo Friday.
The mayors of Warwick and Lambton Shores didn’t attend the meeting at the water plant in Sarnia because of the snowy weather. Municipal councils in those communities had voted to ask the board to stop adding fluoride.
The Lambton Area Water Supply System has a weighted vote system that gives Sarnia five votes, St. Clair two and the rest of the communities one each. Seven votes of a possible 11 votes were cast Friday, so the votes of the two board members who didn’t attend wouldn’t have changed the outcome, said board chairperson and Sarnia Coun. Terry Burrell.
But the issue may not be entirely dead.
The board also decided Friday to meet again March 4 and debate whether or not to ask each member municipalities to hold a plebiscite in the fall municipal elections, asking residents if they want fluoride in the water.
Burrell said the decision to begin adding fluoride came about years ago because of a plebiscite.
“To me, it makes sense we go back and do that again because there seems to be a lot of controversy in the community,” he said.
Burrell said suspects the issue isn’t going away.
“If we don’t get a firm settlement on it, it’s going to keep coming back,” he said.
Municipalities would have to move quickly to put the question on the ballot for this fall.
Arnold said he doesn’t support a municipal plebiscite.
“There was a decision made today, whether I agree with it or not, to maintain fluoride in the water system,” he said. Calling for a plebiscite would only get “everyone all stirred up again on something we just made a decision on.”
Arnold said it’s time for the board moved on. “There’s a ton of other issues that we need to be working on.”
Public health officials and dental associations have urged the board to continue adding fluoride to maintain good dental health. Opponents questioned the need for the additive and its impact on human health.
“We as a society are bombarded by a ton of different chemicals,” Arnold said. “An, having fluoride in the water is just one more.”
Kirkland said members of his municipal council believe the issue should be left to health officials to decide.