Fluoride Action Network

What Calgary fluoride vote could mean for Airdrie

Source: The High River Times | November 3rd, 2021 | By Riley Cassidy
Location: Canada, Alberta
During municipal elections, City of Calgary voters were presented with the question of whether or not they supported adding fluoride into drinking water.

Out of 334,888 votes collected on the question, 62 per cent supported the proposal.

Airdrie receives all of its drinking water from Calgary, so a reintroduction of fluoride in Calgary would ultimately mean the same for Airdrie, but a 62 per cent vote in favour doesn’t necessarily guarantee the City of Calgary will see it through.

The vote for reintroducing fluoride was set in motion on February 1 of this year after City of Calgary council debated the topic.

A poll was proposed for the municipal election on whether Calgarians believed it should be left to the decision of Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer, and a vote was also held to restore fluoridation right then and there and have administration come up with an implementation plan as soon as possible.

Calgary council defeated both of those motions, opting to poise the question to voters in the municipal election.

The motion passed, but notes that in the event of a vote in favour of fluoridation, the Mayor will request that the province cover the cost of implementation.

That may be the key to whether or not Calgary reintroduces fluoride, which would ultimately reach the taps of Airdrie residents.

The expected cost of refluoridation, presented to City of Calgary council during their February 1 meeting, is $30.1-million, plus an added $2.4-million of expected non-scheduled maintenance.

That cost covers a 20-year lifespan of the proposed project.

Lorne Stevens, director of Community Infrastructure at the City of Airdrie, said that whatever course of action Calgary decides on would have no impact on City of Airdrie finances or municipal taxes and utility rates.

“If the province agrees to pay for that, realistically that is not going to be something that then is borne by the Calgary residents or anyone using the Calgary water supply,” said Stevens.

“If you look at those annual operating costs, in the order of magnitude of about $1-million per year, and you distribute that by the number of customers… Calgary has indicated that they would not expect to increase water rates as a result of fluoridation.”

Airdrie has received drinking water with added fluoride from Calgary in the past, and Stevens said a decision to reintroduce fluoride by Calgary wouldn’t have any impacts on Airdrie infrastructure.

“We’ve received water that contained additional fluoride in the range of 20 years previously. It’s already embedded in the water much like chlorine is, and there’s no impact on our distribution system or water storage reservoirs,” said Stevens.

“We simply would be receiving that water and distributing it without any additional infrastructure upgrades. There are zero impacts and zero infrastructure investments we would have to make.”

There is already a small amount of naturally occurring fluoride in Calgary’s drinking water, ranging from 0.1 to 0.4 milligrams per litre. An optimal amount under Health Canada guidelines is 0.7 milligrams per litre.

Stevens said Airdrie drinking water would remain within Health Canada guidelines even if Calgary reintroduces fluoride.

“Whether or not there’s additional fluoride added to our water, the water that Airdrie businesses and residents would receive would meet the Health Canada guidelines for drinking water,” he said

Since electing to remove added fluoride in 2011, statistics have shown a concerning trend in the dental health of Calgarians.

Within a couple years of that decision, decay in the baby teeth of children rose by 65 per cent compared to 2005. Edmonton saw an increase of only 14 per cent in the same period of time.

13 of 15 of the elected City of Calgary councillors have indicated that they either support reintroducing fluoride or aim to honour the results of the poll, according to the responses of a questionnaire distributed by the Calgary Herald.

City of Calgary council may return to the topic before the end of the year.

*Original article online at https://www.highrivertimes.com/news/local-news/what-calgary-fluoride-vote-could-mean-for-airdrie