PRESCOTT – Heidi MacDonald doesn’t think Prescott residents should have to wait three and a half years to vote on water fluoridation.
“That’s a big responsibility and a big wait,” the science and special education teacher said Monday night after learning council has decided to continue putting fluoride in the water and a referendum will now likely not be held until 2006.
“It’s drinking water. It’s a basic need and this is a serious issue,” MacDonald said after the meeting. She is also appalled council would let a decision made 40 years ago to add fluoride prevail today when she said there is research she feels proves its hazards far outweigh any benefits it might provide.
According to MacDonald, there have been studies between communities using fluoride and those that do not that have shown no difference in tooth decay in children.
Council listened to MacDonald’s concerns but said legislation dictates that public meetings must be held and bylaws passed by certain deadlines prior to a referendum. Prescott’s chief administrative officer Robert Haller issued a press release last week that he was unable to co-ordinate all requirements by the mid-May deadline.
“You can’t change it without a referendum,” said Haller. “The deadlines for that came to May 15, to have a decision.”
Council agreed and said it would not pursue the fluoridation issue during this term of office, which ends in November. Instead, it was noted the issue would be placed on a ballot in 2006.
But MacDonald wondered why a separate vote can’t be taken outside of a regular election.
“I would recommend against that,” Haller said.
Mayor Robert Lawn explained the council’s term is ending in six months but it is an issue she could push with the new elected body in November.
The issue was brought to the table about a month ago when Haller told council the town’s fluoride analyser had broken down and needed to be replaced unless council decided against adding fluoride to the system. Replacing the equipment and adding an alarm system will cost $15,000 and the town is moving ahead with the purchase.