Residents in Waterloo narrowly voted against continuing to fluoridate municipal water, and the mayor and regional councillors say they will honour the wishes of the majority.
The vote was tight, with 49.7 per cent voting ‘yes,’ and 50.3 per cent against fluoridation, which was been in place in the city for 44 years.
Mayor Brenda Halloran, who was re-elected in Monday night’s vote says she was pro-fluoride.
“I’ve said yes to fluoride, but it’s up to the citizens, and that’s what the referendum is all about.”
First introduced in 1966, the issue has provoked intense debate.
Dr. Harry Hoediono says “We had hoped that the message about science looking after our oral health and overall health would resonate with the public.”
But Robert Fleming of Waterloo Waterwatch says even though it was a close vote “I think it speaks loudly to the wishes of the public.”
Regional councillors will ultimately have to approve the end of fluoridation, and they are resoundingly saying they will honour the outcome of the vote.
Sean Strickland and Jane Mitchell, regional councillors elected in Waterloo, both say they will vote with the majority, even though Mitchell herself voted to keep fluoride.
Two regional councillors elected in Kitchener, Tom Galloway and Jean Haalboom have taken the same stance.
Halloran says the new council will give directions to the Region of Waterloo at their next meeting in November.
“That we would like the fluoride removed and that is what we talked about from day one, that we would follow the wishes of this community.”
Once approval is given, some administrative and physical work will need to be done in order to shut down the system.