CITY COUNCIL has rejected a plan to go to referendum Oct. 18 referendum on water fluoridation.
Council voted 3-2 July 14 against the fall vote, opting to delay the plebiscite. City administration had recommended the Oct. 18 date.
But councillor David Hull said the issue needs more attention and debate than it might get in a standalone referendum.
“It’s just not a good use of city money,” Hull said. “It’s a serious enough issue that it deserves a good representation from the public.”
The city had previously hoped to combine the fluoridation vote with another issue – possibly the runway extension borrowing – but concluded that is unworkable for now.
Delaying the fluoridation referendum until next year or even waiting to combine it with the next municipal election in 2005 makes more sense, Hull said.
Although he opposes fluoridation, he said keeping the water fluoridated does not pose an immediate health threat to citizens.
“It is a longtime cumulative effect,” he said.
Councillors Stew Christensen and Marylin Davies also voted to hold back the referendum.
“I think it’s an irresponsible use of $6,000 for a one-issue referendum,” Davies said.
Councillors Lynne Christiansen and Rich McDaniel were in favour of proceeding with the Oct. 18 date.
If fluoridation ends, Christiansen said, it would have saved the city around $24,000 a year – more than offsetting the $6,000 expected cost of the referendum.
“The sooner we do it, the more we’re saving,” Christiansen said.
But Hull noted the city will only save the money if voters reject fluoridation.
“Are you willing to gamble $6,000 on that?” he asked.
Terrace is one of just seven towns left in B.C. fluoridating drinking water. Just five per cent of B.C. residents are on fluoridated water, compared to 40 per cent nationally.
The latest town to end fluoridation was Burns Lake. A referendum there in June – with very low voter turnout – defeated fluoridation 138-39.