McDOUGALL TWP. – Survey results currently demonstrate that McDougall residents want fluoride out of their drinking water.
In a general update to council from the township’s clerk, Cindy Vankoughnett, at a regular meeting of council Wednesday evening, Vankoughnett informed council that to-date, 88 responses from the fluoride in municipal water survey have been received from McDougall ratepayers. Of those 88 responses, 78 ratepayers would like fluoride removed from the water, while the remaining 10 are opposed to the removal. A total of 349 surveys were sent to McDougall ratepayers and commercial establishments. The final date to submit the survey is February 20.
In November, council voted to send a survey out to its ratepayers to get their feedback on whether the majority would like fluoride removed from their drinking water or not, after a deputation from Wayne Gilbert, member of the Parry Sound for Progressive Water Management group. The intention of the survey process is to avoid a referendum, that could be called if a petition, which is currently being circulated throughout the Town of Parry Sound and the Municipality of McDougall, finds that 10 per cent of ratepayers from each respective community wishes that fluoride be removed. The Municipality of McDougall has been purchasing its drinking water from the Town of Parry Sound since 2007.
The Town of Parry Sound council voted in June to continue to fluoridate, which results in a necessary upgrade of $250,000 to the water treatment plant. In addition to the plant upgrades, it costs approximately $4,500 to $5,000 per annum to fluoridate the water.
Vankoughnett informed council that if council were to pass a motion based on the survey results, they would effectively be contradicting section 6.2 of the water transmission agreement with the Town of Parry Sound.
“I think really the steps for us to do right now is wait until February 20 when our survey’s are all back. That will give us a fair idea of what our ratepayers want to do in the system,” said McDougall mayor Dale Robinson. “If it is, please take it out, then I think it would be who of us, if council decides at that time, to make a deputation to Parry Sound council, saying that the agreement says its your call but we would like it out…”
Councillor Kim Dixon questioned whether McDougall council could make a stand on the issue, referencing the terms of the water transmission agreement between the two communities.
“We wouldn’t be objecting, we’d just be going and making a deputation saying please give consideration to this,” clarified mayor Robinson. “I guess at that point if they say no and we took a stand against that then we’d be objecting to what their position is. What are they going to do anyway? It’s probably not worth the paper it’s written on…”
A referendum would come at a cost of $19,000 plus staff time to the Town of Parry Sound and approximately $15,000 to $16,000 to the Municipality of McDougall.
On Tuesday, January 5 members of Parry Sounders for Progressive Water Management began canvassing the Parry Sound community soliciting signatures for a petition to remove fluoride from the municipal water supply.
Earlier in the week Joe Moloney, a member with the Parry Sounders for Progressive Water Management, commented in saying that of the section of the community that the group had canvassed, 90 per cent of ratepayers wished to have fluoride removed from the water supply. A petition form is also located at Distler Construction Ltd. at 92 James Street.
An alternative to the referendum would be for the Town of Parry Sound council member on the prevailing side of the original vote (to upgrade the town’s water treatment plant) to provide a Notice of Motion at a council meeting. The motion would then come before council at the following meeting.
– with files from Stephannie Johnson