Calgary city councillors moved ahead with the reintroduction of fluoride into Calgary’s water, following two-thirds support during the recent municipal election.
The matter came to Monday’s combined meeting of council, where it was ultimately approved 13-2. Not without attempts to refer it to another committee.
City administration outlined the cost and timeline of the reintroduction, with a timeline of between 18 months and two years.
In the 2021 municipal election, 62 per cent of Calgary voters cast their ballot in favour of reintroduction of fluoride.
Coun. Andre Chabot attempted to send it back to committee for further review. He said there is new evidence to review, and new councillors should be able to get up to speed.
Chabot said he wasn’t here to stop this. With that said, he wasn’t certain this was the right way to go. He was also concerned with it being a health issue, which is the purview of the province.
“I don’t necessarily believe that this process is the best method of delivery of this system,” he said.
Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra said he’s inclined to go with the data on this decision. He cited recent studies that show Edmonton, who has fluoride in their water, has significantly fewer cavities in young people than Calgary.
“The removal of fluoridation from Calgary’s water has inflected the rate of dental caries increase in our city upwards, faster than Edmonton,” he said.
In a report to council, “Administration estimated the overall cost including capital, operating and maintenance to reintroduce water fluoridation at both water treatment plants with a 20-year service life is estimated at $30.1 million in 2020 dollars, plus $2 to $4 million dollars for lifecycle fluoridation maintenance activities.”
According to the city, the reintroduction won’t result in an increase in water rates.
On again, off again
Ward 3 Coun. Jasmine Mian said Calgarians know more than they probably should about the fluoride issue. That's part of the problem.
"When I went on the doors throughout the campaign, what I heard over and over from citizens was less about the merits for or against fluoride, but a frustration with the fact that we come back to this over and over again, and the cost associated with the fact that we have put this in, put it out, you put the fluoride and you take the fluoride out," Mian said.
To the point about needing more information, Mian was blunt.
"I also think anyone who's elected to this chamber would be up to speed on the science behind this," she said.
"I know I certainly have taken the time to educate myself."
Ward 6 Coun. Richard Pootmans, who introduced the motion, said there will always be new information on the fluoride debate.
"Today, however, is an important opportunity. Today, for our vulnerable kids and for democracy," he said.