City council votes 13-2 to return fluoride to Calgary water

Calgary will reintroduce fluoride to its tap water after city council voted overwhelmingly in favour of the change Monday.

The vote wasn’t close. Thirteen voted in favour. Two councillors voted against the motion to reinstate fluoride: Andre Chabot of Ward 10 and Dan McLean of Ward 13.

Fluoride was removed following a council decision in 2011. However, in last month’s civic election, Calgarians voted 61.61 per cent in favour of resuming fluoridation. There was majority support for the move in all 14 of the city’s wards.

Following the October election, Mayor Jyoti Gondek said she expected quick action from council on the plebiscite, even though it is not binding.

“You can’t put something on the ballot and then wait to talk about it. People have an expectation and we need to meet those expectations,” said the new mayor.

City administration estimates the overall capital, operating and maintenance cost will be approximately $30 million over 20 years. 

The cost will not result in an increase in water rates or in property taxes. The city’s water utility is expecting to be able to cover the cost.

A group that campaigned in favour of the return of fluoridation, Fluoride Yes, welcomed the council discussion prior to Monday’s vote.

Children ‘desperately’ need it, says group

Juliet Guichon, who was the group’s campaign manager, said she’s pleased council is taking action so soon after the plebiscite.

“I’m really grateful to city councillors for choosing to act rapidly because Calgary children desperately need the return of fluoridation,” said Guichon, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Calgary. 

“They’re lining up for general anesthetic to deal with whole mouth dental decay and so it’s necessary and urgent that fluoridation be reinstated so that our children can have better oral health.”

City officials estimate it will take 18 to 24 months to make the change, given the equipment that must be purchased and installed at both city water treatment plants.

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