Calgary will reintroduce fluoride to its tap water after city council voted overwhelmingly in favour of the change Monday.
The vote wasn’t close, as 13 members of council 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, Calgarians voted 61.61 per cent in favour of resuming fluoridation in last month’s civic election. There was majority support for the move in all 14 of the city’s wards.
The city says it will take up to two years to buy the necessary equipment and install it at the two water treatment plants in Calgary.
Mayor Jyoti Gondek reacted to the vote saying it was Calgarians who provided this mandate.
“It’s what Calgarians have wanted,” Gondek said.
“We had a lot of presentations talking about the pros and cons and I think that the new members of council who are serving with me have done their homework and they realize the value of this move.”
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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