Council votes to end fluoride treatment, but question to
expand on next ballot
Before voting on the motion last night to end a 40 year practice of
fluoridating the Tottenham water supply, which passed 7-3, New
Tecumseth councillors approved holding a plebiscite during the next
municipal election (October 2014), which will ask voters in Alliston,
Beeton, and Tottenham whether they want fluoride added to the town-wide
The notion was birthed by Ward 7 councillor Bruce Haire who argued that
because "we're one town" there should be a uniform standard - although
Tottenham is on a separate ground water supply, while Alliston and
Beeton receive potable water via the Georgian Bay pipeline treated and
distributed from Collingwood.
It's a surprising development that hadn't played into previous debates
which last week lasted about two hours and included representatives
from the Simcoe Muskoka Public Health Unit arguing to keep fluoride
treatment in Tottenham water. On the polar opposite side, Ward 8
councillor Jim Stone, calling it a "poison."
Last night, the debate was less about the pros and cons of fluoride and
more about putting the question on the ballot including for the first
time Alliston, and Beeton. At one point, Ward 1 councillor Bob Marrs
put a motion on the floor that sought to have an immediate plebiscite
for Tottenham residents, but that didn't get to a council vote. It then
evolved into the town-wide question - it would exclude Ward 4, Ward 5,
and Ward 7.
When asked about the fluoridation process and set-up if a vote to
expand fluoride was approved, Public Works Director Chad Horan, said
for Tottenham "it's essentially pull the plug, and plug it back in."
However, it's not that simple for Alliston and Beeton. Mr. Horan
estimated the equipment would cost over $130,000, would require more
staff and training because fluoride is a controlled substance and must
be dosed within approved guidelines. Additionally, because Alliston and
Beeton water is treated with sodium hypochloride, the fluoride
would require its own separate storage and containment because "they
don't mix. They need to be separated." So the Town would have to build a separate storage shed.
In the meantime, the end of fluoridation in Tottenham will begin with
an application to the Ministry of Environment to amend the Certificate
of Approval attached to the system's operation. Once cleared, (a
formality) it would take four to five days for the system to flush
fluoride from water supply. Councillors agreed to use whatever savings
are achieved and donate to the Public Health Unit for use in dental
health programs aimed at Tottenham elementary school students.