Red Deer city council is seeking more answers on whether a plebiscite on water fluoridation in 2013 offers the best solution for residents.
Council decided on Monday to have administration prepare a report for May 16 on the heavily divided issue between those who support the cavity-fighting chemical and those who don’t.
Staff will provide a wealth of information, including how to engage the public, changes in provincial and federal health regulations and global best practices, plus potential impacts on surrounding communities that receive Red Deer’s treated water.
Councillor Buck Buchanan called for a motion to poll Red Deer voters during the municipal election in October 2013.
“This is a fairly hot button issue in the community,” said Buchanan.
Council was told that to pose the question during the municipal election would cost an additional $5,000 or so since only a second ballot is required.
But to hold a separate plebisicite would cost about $100,000 to $150,000.
Councillors have received more phone calls, emails and other feedback from the public in light of Calgary council’s recent decision to have the fluoride removed from the city’s water supply.
Fluoridation of Red Deer’s public water supply is mandated by a plebiscite that was held in the 1950s.
The water treatment plant is legally required to continue this practice.
Council learned that they are allowed by law to overturn a plebiscite if it is more than 10 years old.
Councillor Paul Harris said he’s done extensive research into the pros and cons of fluoride over the last couple of months.
Based on the information he’s learned, Harris would like to see fluoride removed from the water supply immediately.
Harris suggested it could be removed and then have a plebiscite to see if people want it back in.
“This is a very scary thing that we need to take seriously,” said Harris.
Harris noted that since the 1950s, a number of things have changed.
For one thing, people can get fluoride through various ways, including toothpaste, specific drops and even through bottled water.
Plus, Harris said there’s a global movement to get rid of fluoride in the water.
Europe doesn’t have the compound in its water, British Columbia is about 95 per cent fluoride-free.
“There is a growing understanding that there is fluoride sensitively which causes all kind of problems like thyroid (issues) and joint pain . . .,” said Harris.
Administration will provide research from medical/dental professionals, as well as homeopathic practitioners so that council will have both sides of the issue to consider.
Councillor Dianne Wyntjes said she favoured a plebiscite, but it’s “just a matter of when.” Having the city’s environmental advisory committee provide input would be a good idea, she added.
Councillor Tara Veer said adding fluoride into Red Deer’s water supply costs about $60,000 annually. She wondered if Red Deer’s fluoride levels, which stand at 0.8 mg per litre, should be reduced to Health Canada’s level of 0.7.
Councillor Chris Stephan said ultimately he’d like to see fluoridate removed, but he wanted to ensure it was done through proper due process and not the way that Calgary did it through purely a council decision.
Several anti-fluoride supporters left the council meeting feeling encouraged.
Diane Hermary has gathered about 180 anti-fluoride supporters through a page on Facebook she created in 2009.
“I am ecstatic that we’re getting some lively debate,” Hermary said. “I think council will do their research and then the red flags will come up on their own.”
Joni Roux of Red Deer believes that the fluoride has led to her thyroid problems for the past 11 years. She recently had a reverse osmosis system installed at her home that eliminates the fluoride. Roux said she’s feeling less sluggish, a symptom of a thyroid malady.