On Monday, Calgary city council voted 10-4 in favour of a plebiscite on fluoride.
The question Calgarians will be answering in the October municipal election: are you in favour of reintroducing fluoridation of the municipal water supply?
Councillors Druh Farrell, Shane Keating, Ward Sutherland and Evan Woolley voted against the plebiscite.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi believes letting Calgarians vote on it is the right path to take.
“I believe that council made a mistake when we removed fluoride from the water in 2011 without asking people because it had been put in with a plebiscite,” he said.
“I believe in fluoride as a public health intervention. I know that the World Health Organization has called it one of the most important public health interventions of the 20th century. But ultimately, I also think that because our history in Calgary has been letting people vote, that letting people vote on this was the right thing to do as well.”
The WHO says adequate exposure to fluoride is an essential factor in the prevention of tooth decay.
City officials say reintroducing fluoride won’t increase water prices in Calgary.
History of fluoride in Calgary
In a 1989 plebiscite, fluoridation was approved and added to drinking water by 1991, the city said.
After a 1998 review recommended that the city reduce the fluoride level in the water to 0.7 mg/L from 1.0 mg/L, the change was made official in 1999, following another plebiscite.
The city stopped adding fluoride to water in May 2011, which reportedly saved $750,000 per year.
In 2016, city council rejected a motion to revisit the debate.
According to the city, the 2021 fluoride plebiscite will be Calgary’s seventh.