Water fluoridation will be back on the table for Red Deer city council today.
Council has been wrestling with the issue for months and asked city staff in March to investigate the pros and cons of fluoridation and whether a plebiscite was a useful option.
A report going to council today doesn’t offer any easy answers. There is no firm recommendation on continuing to add fluoridation or not.
“The data available, both in favour and opposed, does not readily allow for absolutes to be clearly defined and we are left to make our conclusions based on less than perfect data,” says the report from director of development services Paul Goranson.
Council has three alternatives: stopping fluoridation, reducing the amount, or not changing anything.
There are also a variety of options on how council can reach its decision, including a plebiscite. A plebiscite outside of a municipal election would cost about $100,000.
Adding the question on a ballot in an election would cost around $5,000.
Options presented to council include public consultation with a plebiscite followed by council debate or a plebiscite alone followed by debate.
Council could also choose a public consultation route and debate the merits, or go it alone and decide the issue without going to the public. Various forms of consultation could take place including open houses, formal debates, surveys, information sessions, or town hall meetings.
City manager Craig Curtis recommends public consultation and then allowing the decision to rest with council at the appropriate time.