Adding fluoride to New Tecumseth’s water supply won’t be on the municipal ballot in the upcoming election unless 10 per cent of the residents on the town’s water supply sign a petition.
In September, council voted to stop fluoridating Tottenham’s water supply and asked staff to draft a report on how to put the question on the ballot for the upcoming Oct. 27 municipal election.
At the committee of the whole meeting last night, staff gave council four options to move forward on how to ask the public about fluoridation.
Council voted in favour of leaving it to at least 10 per cent of the electors on the town’s water supply or who can be hooked up to the town’s water supply to sign a petition. If the town receives a petition, at that point council would have to put the question to the electors before or at the next municipal election.
Tottenham Coun. Jim Stone has led the push to end fluoridation in Tottenham for years.
“There is so much evidence that fluoride is harmful, I don’t think we should have it on the ballot,” Stone said.
Alternatively, Mayor Mike MacEachern defended his original argument for allowing the residents to decide whether or not to fluoridate the water.
“When they voted for this they all got reasonably educated with regard to fluoridation and decided whether or not they wanted it in their system. For us to unilaterally take it out wasn’t fair to those people that had educated themselves enough to make that decision,” he said.
The Fluoride Act doesn’t require a plebiscite.
CAO Terri Caron explained that if you ask the fluoridation question and the majority of voters say yes, it’s binding and has to be added to the system.
The act does not state, however, how long the process must be done for.
“Subsequently, if there’s a decision later taken to remove it, the act provides for the process for that and it does not include a mandated going back to the electors,” she said.
Up until the process was stopped in the fall, Tottenham’s water had been fluoridated since 1973, when residents voted in favour of it during an election. Alliston and Beeton are on a different system and haven’t had fluoride in the water.
The remaining three options presented to council March 24 on how to move forward with fluoridation are to put the question on the ballot, put the question to the electors outside of an election process, or consider an alternate process for public consultation.
Council can still change their minds on how to proceed at its council meeting Monday, March 31.