Sarnia city council can help move the fluoride debate forward Monday, according to the chairperson of the Lambton Area Water Supply System (LAWSS).
City councillors are expected to vote Monday on whether or not they believe LAWSS should continue adding the tooth decay preventative to the local drinking water supply.
“Whatever comes out of city council should help push us toward a final decision, ” said Terry Burrell, a city councillor and chairperson of the LAWSS board.
The system runs a water treatment plant in Sarnia that serves the city, St. Clair Township, Point Edward, Plympton-Wyoming and Warwick Township.
Board members raised the issue of the future of fluoride back in August 2008 and, since then, municipal councils in Lambton Shores and Warwick have passed motions asking LAWSS to stop adding it.
Burrell requested city council vote on the issue to aid his decision-making when the future of adding fluoride comes up for a vote by the LAWSS board.
Monday’s debate should let Sarnia residents know where city councillors stand on the issue, “and then, hopefully, will influence the LAWSS board to move forward,” Burrell said.
Monday’s council agenda includes a report from a recent meeting Sarnia organized to gather public comments on the fluoride issue.
Most of the eight people who spoke at that meeting opposed adding fluoride, citing health concerns.
Adding fluoride to drinking water is supported by Dr. Chris Greensmith, Lambton County’s medical officer of health, and Dr. Anthony Tang, president of the Lambton County Dental Society.
“Water fluoridation is safe and helps prevent tooth decay — it’s just as simple as that,” Tang said.
The local water treatment plant began adding fluoride in the early 1970s, after city voters approved the move in a plebiscite.
Mayor Mike Bradley said he wants city council to vote Monday to support continuing the practice.
But, if council votes to ask the LAWSS board to stop, Bradley said he will recommend council put the fluoride question to a plebiscite in the fall municipal election.
“Fluoride was put in the water in the first place in Sarnia through a plebiscite,” he said. “And, I believe it can only be morally removed through another plebiscite.”
Burrell said he expects the fluoride issue will be on the agenda when the LAWSS board meets next on Feb. 25.