Owen Sound’s Operation’s Advisory Committee is recommending the City allow residents to vote on the issue of fluoridated public drinking water.
Councillor Jim McManaman, the Committee’s vice-chair, tells Bayshore Broadcasting News “there’s lots of pros and cons in the fluoridation debate.”
City Council will approve or reject the recommendation at their March 3rd meeting.
Owen Sound has treated its drinking water since 1965, and a similar review in 1997 led to the continuation of the fluoridation process.
‘Operation’s Advisory Committee’ Chair, Bill Twaddle, says the concern hasn’t been raised in roughly 17 years, and with a municipal election scheduled for October, it’s an appropriate time for a review.
According to Twaddle, “a municipality can decide to fluoridate its water — except if there’s been a plebiscite held, in which the electors made the decision.”
A plebiscite is the direct vote of all the members of an electorate on an important public question such as a change in the constitution/mandate.
The first plebiscite was held in 1965 and again in 1997, and both times voters agreed that Owen Sound should continue to treat public water.
If Council rejects the plebiscite recommendation, concerned residents can create a petition with at least 10 percent of the electorates signatures and force the decision.
The signatures would then be reviewed by City staff to ensure they’re genuine.
At a public meeting in January, dozens of residents claimed they’re being “medicated” without consciously making the decision.
Grey-Bruce Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Hazel Lynn, made a presentation, saying numerous studies have shown fluoride is a benefit, particularly for lower income residents who often can’t afford to see a dentist regularly.
Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally.
It helps prevent dental decay by making the tooth more resistant to acid attacks and fluoride can also reverse the early stages of decay.
Orillia Council voted to remove fluoride in their water in July of 2012.
Now, statistics show Orillia children have the highest rate of dental decay of the 10 municipalities reviewed in the Simcoe-Muskoka region.
Again, Owen Sound Council will make a decision about the plebiscite at their March 3rd meeting, and if it’s approved the question would be on the ballot in October 27th.