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Reintroducing fluoride would not increase water prices in Calgary

Click to play video 'Calgary councillors look at cost of adding fluoride to drinking water' Calgary councillors look at cost of adding fluoride to drinking water
Calgary currently doesn’t add fluoride to its drinking water, but Calgary councillors will be examining the cost of adding it back in during a council meeting Tuesday. Carolyn Kury de Castillo has details. – Dec 1, 2020

Reintroducing fluoride to Calgary’s water now has a price tag. But no decision has been made to make it happen.

Tuesday, the city’s priorities and finance committee heard from city officials that the upfront capital costs would be $10.1 million, with annual operating and maintenance costs estimated at $1 million.

Those capital costs could be absorbed by the water utility, meaning there would be no need to raise water rates.

Read more: Fluoride in water fight gets heated at city hall in Calgary

“It would have no impact whatsoever on property taxes and you would amortize the cost over many years,” Mayor Naheed Nenshi said.

“You really wouldn’t see any change in the water rates. It would be in the fractions of a penny.”

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Administration also recommends using the same type of fluoride that the city previously used, before removing it from city water in 2011.

The presentation from city administration was just for information, and Nenshi said that leaves a few options.

Read more: Calgary city council commissions study to decide if fluoride should be reintroduced to water

“Number one is don’t do anything — leave the fluoride out,” the mayor told reporters. “Number two is have a plebiscite on this issue in the next election, as we’ve done in the past on fluoride.

“Or number three is put a motion to reintroduce fluoride into the water supply and see if it’s got the votes.”

Read more: Here’s how removing fluoride from Calgary’s water affected kids’ teeth

Changes to the Municipal Government Act would not require a decision on fluoride to go to a plebiscite, but new provincial legislation allows for matters like this to be put to plebiscite during the next municipal election.

Calgary goes to the polls to vote for the next council on Oct. 18, 2021.

Tuesday’s presentation follows a Nov. 2019 direction from council for city officials to investigate the cost of reintroducing fluoride into Calgary tap water.

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