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Calgarians vote to bring fluoride back into drinking water

Calgarians voted yes to fluoride in Monday night's civic election. Ian Waldie/Getty Images File

Calgarians have voted in favour of reintroducing fluoride into the city’s drinking water.

Voters were polled on the issue for the seventh time in the city’s history during Monday night’s election.

Read more: Jyoti Gondek becomes 1st woman to serve as Calgary mayor

The question on this year’s ballot read: “Are you in favour of reintroducing fluoridation of the municipal water supply? Yes or no.”

Unofficial results as of 10:30 p.m. showed 62 per cent wanted to bring it back, while 38 per cent voted no.

The issue was first voted on nearly 70 years ago; it was rejected four times between 1957 and 1971, and then approved in 1989 and again in 1998.

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City council decided to remove fluoride in 2011 after a lengthy debate and public hearing.

In February 2021, city council voted 10-4 in favour of a plebiscite to take the question to voters, with councillors Ward Sutherland, Shane Keating, Evan Woolley and Druh Farrell opposed.

According to the Alberta Dental Association and College, there are between 0.1 and 0.4 parts per million of fluoride naturally in drinking water.

If fluoride is reintroduced into the water system, it would be regulated at 0.7 parts per million at an estimated cost of $30 million over the next 20 years.

City administration said those capital costs could be absorbed by the water utility, which wouldn’t require an increase in water rates.

Campaigns on both sides of the issue had been advocating their stance on fluoride with lawn signs and mailed flyers.

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

Fluoride Yes! — a group that includes dentists, doctors, lawyers and engineers — wants to have fluoride reintroduced into the water supply, saying it’s concerned about the impacts on children’s dental health following the removal of fluoride a decade ago.

On the other side of the debate, Safe Water Calgary campaigned on keeping fluoride out of the water system, saying Calgarians should have a choice about whether they want to consume it.

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The fluoride plebiscite vote is non-binding, which means it will ultimately be up to the new mayor and city council to make a decision once they’re in office.

 

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