PARRY SOUND – With more than 90 per cent support against water fluoridation, Parry Sounders for Progressive Water Management hope the debate ends now.
For the last several weeks, the group has been going door-to-door, soliciting signatures in the hopes of avoiding a referendum.
Simultaneously McDougall residents, some who purchase water from the town, have voiced their opposition, through a survey sent out by the township. Of the 88 responses received, 78 ratepayers want the chemical removed, while the remaining 10 want to keep the water fluoridated.
The township has been buying drinking water from the town since 2007.
A total of 349 surveys were sent out to McDougall ratepayers and commercial establishments. Ratepayers have until February 20 to compete the survey.
If ten per cent of ratepayers from both Parry Sound and McDougall are in favour of the removal of fluoride, a referendum could be called.
A referendum would come at a cost of $19,000 plus staff time to the town and approximately $15,000 to $16,000 to McDougall – mere pennies, compared to the cost associated with keeping the water fluoridated.
In June 2015 the town council agreed to continue to fluoridate its water, and shortly thereafter approved the necessary $250,000 upgrade to the water treatment plant to dispense the chemical. Additionally, another $4,500 to $5,000 is needed annually to fluoridate the water.
Parry Sounders for Progressive Water Management member Joe Moloney hopes when he presents preliminary petition numbers to Parry Sound council during his deputation Tuesday that referendum can be avoided. The deputation took place after North Star’s press deadline.
In a copy of his deputation provided to the North Star last week, Moloney applauds council and local dentists and the job they do for the community.
“What this petition is, is a triumph of democracy and citizens’ initiative,” wrote Moloney. “This petition, supported by over 90 per cent of the electorate we have so far petitioned, is a resounding condemnation of the practice of fluoridation of our municipal water with the chemical hydrofluorosilicic acid.”
Moloney said ratepayers welcomed and thanked those knocking on their doors, many asking, “Where can I sign?”
“Council, we have the overwhelming support of the electorate to take this to a referendum, one I am quite confident we would win. Do we want this? No! This would just add more costs to the amounts already spent and the hundreds of thousands of dollars to be spent in the future,” wrote Moloney. “The citizens of Parry Sound and McDougall are speaking with this petition. If you choose to continue, you as council will be responsible for any future costs as well as the burden put on all Parry Sound and McDougall ratepayers for a referendum on a chemical the vast majority don’t want in their water. There is no shame in taking a leadership role in bringing this to an end and moving forward. We know you love this town, we love this town! Let’s immediately put this issue to bed and move on.”
Friday morning Moloney said he hopes by the time this story reaches the streets the issue will be over and if it’s not, he said the group will continue gathering signatures.
“We’re giving council a chance,” Moloney said. “We’ve talked to councillors behind the scene. We’re going to keep going, but we’re not going to break our necks. The whole idea was to go out there and give it, get the 10 per cent we needed.
“If (council) decides to keep putting this off and putting this off we’re going to keep going.”
Moloney guesses the group has covered about one third of the town with “well over 1,000” signatures.
“When you go to door-to-door, people are more apt to talk… they actually have an opinion and that’s what we’ve found. I wouldn’t be so confident if we weren’t getting these results and they weren’t so consistent with each group,” he said. “We’ve had people run across the street, we’ve had people stop their cars and say, ‘Are you the petitioners? Hold on, we’ve got to sign!’”
Heading out nearly every day of the week sometimes in four and five-hour stretches, Moloney said he is both surprised and thrilled with the response.
“The people are speaking, it’s democracy. It’s not, ‘This is what I believe, this is what you believe.’ It’s democracy. People have a say about what goes in their water and they’re speaking loud and clear,” he said. “I’m hoping we get good results (Tuesday night) and when people read this Wednesday, it’s redundant. It’s been really nice. When we went out we did not expect the results we’re getting. We expected people to be positive, but not this positive.”