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News

Decision imminent on whether to add fluoride question on ballot

Posted March 24, 2014

In companion to last fall's council vote to cease fluoridation of the water supply in Tottenham, was consideration to hold a plebiscite on fluoridating the entire urban system.

A report on tonight's agenda by New Tecumseth Clerk Cindy Anne Mahar, sets the course for what is required to put the issue on the ballot, including the mandatory question - "Are you in favour of the fluoridation of the public water supply in this municipality?" It cannot be amended.

Ms. Mahar also sets out the various complicating factors that accompany the issue because it's governed by the Fluoridation Act, as well as the Municipal Elections Act (MEA). In the first instance, if a majority vote in favour, its result is binding, and the estimated cost to implement the treatment program in Alliston, Beeton, and Tottenham is $164,200.

Under the MEA, The definition of 'electors' does not include corporations, so corporate users of the Town water system are excluded and can have no input into such a decision, and that has been flagged as a concern because of the binding nature of the question.

"Two of the Town's manufacturing corporations (believed to be Honda and Baxter) have advised that there may be implications on their operations, processes and costs if fluoride were to be added to the water system," according to Ms. Mahar. "Some of the processes that may potentially be affected include Reverse Osmosis (RO) system for paint, chemical treatment systems including boilers, cooling towers, chilling/hot water, etc. The extent of the implications is not known and would require further detailed analysis to fully understand."

And on that, time is of the essence because a bylaw confirming the ballot question has to be approved by April 30, 2014, and preceding that, there is a 10 day public notice period about the pending bylaw, as well a mandatory public meeting.

"To add to the complexity of this matter," council can appoint scrutineers but it has to be an equal number appointed for each possible answer to the question. Additionally, individual, corporation or trade union that proposes to incur expenses in relation to a question being placed on the ballot has to register with the Clerk.

"The MEA provides for campaign expenses for the registrant, advises who can contribute and sets out how the registrant must track and file financial statements. This means, any individual, corporation or trade union that intends to incur expenses with regard to the question on the ballot must register to become a registrant and will then be required to essentially follow the same rules as a candidate in the Municipal Election process. As indicated by the Town's solicitor, this particular section certainly imposes fairly considerable obligations on both staff and any person who intends to become engaged in campaigning for or against the ballot question if part of that campaign leads to incurring expenses."

Ms. Mahar does not offer a recommended action, instead, "respectively seeks direction from council."

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