Return of water fluoridation on tap for Calgary council meeting

Calgarians supported the return of fluoride to the city’s drinking water supply during last month’s civic election, and city council is moving quickly to discuss the issue.

This week’s council meeting will see the new council vote on whether to reintroduce fluoride to the city’s water treatment processes.

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.

If council votes in favour of the reintroduction of fluoride to Calgary’s water treatment processes, 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.

Supporter pleased council responding

A group that campaigned in favour of the return of fluoridation, Fluoride Yes, is welcoming the council discussion.

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.”

If council directs administration to return fluoride to the water supply, city officials estimate it will take 18 to 24 months to make that actually happen, given the equipment that must be purchased and installed at both city water treatment plants.

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