Council rejects ballot question on fluoride, but 10 per cent
of electors can force it
Posted March 25,
Pending a change in voting intentions when the matter hits council for
ratification next Monday night, New Tecumseth's municipal ballot in
October will not include a question about fluoridation of the urban
The issue came to a head last night, because ballot questions have
timelines, and in this case, a bylaw to hold a plebiscite has to be
approved by April 31, including a public notice period, and a public
Ward 8 councillor Jim Stone, whose made the removal of fluoride from
the Tottenham water his top priority, succeeding after several tries,
last fall, said last night he did not want to see the question on the
"The Clean Water Act basically tells us as councillors and staff, we're
responsible personally for the integrity of our water system, and we
could not knowingly put anything in the water that can harm people,"
said Mr. Stone. "There is a lot of evidence that fluoride causes harm.
All these things I've been saying about fluoride, if you don't agree
with what I've said, you should find out for yourself."
Mayor Mike MacEachern pointed to his confusion about the notion that a
majority vote in a ballot question is binding on the municipality when
fluoride was removed from Tottenham by council resolution.
"I just don't understand, if it's binding, why that's a big deal,
because we could wait a month and just take it out," said the mayor,
seeking clarification from CAO Terri Caron.
Ms. Caron said the provision did contradict itself in the sense that,
"if you ask the question, if fluoride is to be added, and the answer
from the majority from the electors is yes, it's binding on the
municipality, and it must be added. But subsequently, if a decision
taken later to remove it, the Act provides a process for that and it
does not include a mandate to go back to the electors for that. So the
process followed in Tottenham was in conformity With the Act."
"It's not really binding then," added the mayor. "I think binding as
meaning you have to do it."
"You do have to do it," replied Ms. Caron. "You do have to implement
it. And you have to take
all the necessary steps to implement the decision of the electors, but
it doesn't have to be forever, and there is no time period around which
it has to be, but you do have to do it."
The report to council laying out the various options, estimated the
cost to fluoridate the water system in the three urban areas, at more
than $164,000. The Town received concerns from local industry about the
unknown impact fluoride would have on their own processes, and because
they are corporate, would not have a vote, or say in its outcome.
Ward 1 councillor Bob Marrs echoed Mr. Stone's concerns, suggesting
that he would need to add a filter to his tap water because of his
"I think there's good reason to sit back and say, 'why are we putting
medication in the water? If we're putting medication in the water,
let's put heart medication, let's put stuff in for dogs to get rid of
rabies shots, just throw everything in the water
to make sure everyone's medicated up. It's a medication," said Mr.
Marrs. "I'd be happy if we just let the
Ward 4 councillor Fran Sainsbury, added, "I think its been on the books
for so long, and its been debated and debated, and if you don't do it,
that's the end of it."
Ward 2 councillor Jamie Smith said he disagreed with Mr. Stone and
Marrs' position, siding with the medical community that supports
fluoride as a key element in fighting tooth decay.
One of the options presented, that was also supported by Ward 3
councillor Paul Whiteside, was the provision that forces a ballot
question if 10 per cent of the eligible electorate in the municipality
petitions for one. But that's an option available on any matter.
"I don't think it's our position to put fluoride in the water or take
out," said Mr. Smith. "Seems to me the only reasonable thing to do is
adopt option three. If 10 per cent of the population want to vote on
it, let us have a
vote, if they don't then we can presume they don't want fluoridation
and just go on into the future."