March 24, 2019

Archives for November 2015

Step taken to prevent fluoride vote

COF-COF News FindBy: Paige Phillips, Parry Sound North Star, Parry Sound, Ontario 20-Nov-2015 – The ongoing fluoride debate from the Town of Parry Sound is trickling into the surrounding Municipality of McDougall.

At the regular meeting of council Wednesday, Nov. 18, Wayne Gilbert, member of the Parry Sound for Progressive Water Management group, presented a deputation to council, regarding the continuation of fluoridation of Town of Parry Sound water, which serves some McDougall residents.

Gilbert explained that when fluoridation was first introduced in the 1950s, no studies were conducted investigating and outlining its effectiveness or potential long-term health consequences.

“In Parry Sound many letters have been sent to our mayor and council asking them for this practice to be discontinued,” said Gilbert. “Council responded with asking the district medical officer of health, Dr. Chirico, to address this question …twice he has spoken with Parry Sound council, both times saying that we have done this for sixty years, he sees no problem.”

Gilbert said the Parry Sounders for Progressive Water Treatment have provided town council with numerous studies, which outline “the serious health risk associated with the ingestion of this high toxic chemical.”

Gilbert informed McDougall council that McKellar resident, former dentist and professor, Dr. Hardy Limeback has also spoken to Town council offering a different stance from that of Dr. Chirico – continuing to fluoridate the town’s water is endangering rate payers’ health.

“Because the Township of McDougall buys drinking water for its residents from the Town of Parry Sound this issue also affects your rate payers,” said Gilbert. “A petition will be presented to our ratepayers asking if they would like this practice discontinued. If 10 per cent of ratepayers respond that they would like this removed a municipal referendum will be required.”

In clerk Cindy Vankoughnett’s report to council, she explained the Fluoridation Act dictates that “because (McDougall and Parry Sound) are a joint waterworks system, each municipality must have at least 10 per cent of their total electors sign a petition prior to a referendum moving forward.”

The Town of Parry Sound council voted in June to continue to fluoridate, which results in a necessary upgrade of $250,000 to the water treatment plant.

In addition to the plant upgrades, it costs approximately $4,500 to $5,000 per annum to fluoridate the water.

Joseph Moloney, also of Parry Sounders for Progressive Water Management, spoke to council, informing them of locations around the world that have taken action against fluoridation, including Europe, Israel, and cities and towns across North America, one of which being the nearby Town of Huntsville.

“Ninety-eight per cent of Europe has gotten rid of fluoride; Israel, their Supreme Court ordered it out of all municipal drinking water based on modern science,” said Moloney. “In North America, 200 cities and towns have gotten rid of it from Vancouver, Calgary to Denver to Huntsville whose mayor at the time was a dentist.” Moloney said the group is pushing for a referendum now so money is not invested in the costly water plant upgrades and continued annual fluoridation costs.

“We’ve had experts come into council and they’ve chosen to listen to one person, unfortunately…and so we’ve been put in this position,” said Moloney.

Moloney, speaking on behalf of the group, stated they do not want the referendum to occur at a cost to the Town of Parry Sound of $19,000 plus staff time and approximately $15,000 to $16,000 to the Municipality of McDougall, but would rather see Parry Sound council end fluoridation.

Vankoughnett explained in her report, that there is a total of 345 connections to the town water system, concluding that fluoridation affects not all of McDougall’s ratepayers.

In hopes of avoiding a referendum, which mayor Dale Robinson pointed out would cost approximately just as much as a regular election, councillor Peter Daleman suggested the option of surveying residents about their preference on fluoridation.

Daleman said he is not interested in referendum and that if it were to occur, voter participation would be extremely low due to the number of residents who are affected and who are interested.

Councillor Lynne Gregory added Parry Sound has voted for the more expensive option to continue to fluoridate the water – a cost that would in turn flow on McDougall ratepayers, resulting in a “trickle down” effect.

Council voted unanimously to direct staff to draft a letter to be delivered to McDougall ratepayers asking their preference on fluoridation. The intention of the survey process is to avoid a referendum by making a decision as a council based on the responses received from ratepayers.

“There has to be some care taken in coming to the decision on it,” said councillor Daleman. “When it comes to cost it’s a no brainer but if there is a health benefit there then you need to take that into consideration.”

An alternative to the referendum would be for the Town of Parry Sound council member on the prevailing side of the original vote (to upgrade the town’s water treatment plant) to provide a Notice of Motion at a council meeting. The motion would then come before council at the following meeting.

Fluoride controversy continues

COF-COF News FindBy: Rob Learn, Parry Sound North Star, Parry Sound, Ontario 11-Nov-2015 – By now the Town of Parry Sound council might be noticing a pattern establishing itself.

They hold a meeting and the topic of fluoridation of the town water supply comes up from at least one of their residents saying they don’t want the stuff.

They then have another brief discussion on the topic, managing to re-establish that using the chemical is dangerous and costly.

Prepare agenda and repeat.

Fluoride in the drinking water of Parry Sound is not becoming, but has already become an issue running out of the control of the councillors sitting around the table, as well as the Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jim Chirico.

This is no longer about cavities either real or imagined. This is about whether residents, voters, actually have a say in whether or not $250,000 is spent on dispensing a chemical nobody seems to want.

We note that Dr. Chirico was gracious enough to speak with council about the science of fluoridation in drinking water, but that is where his concern with dental health in Parry Sound District ended.

The dental services for children under the age of 17 are still only based in the City of North Bay where the board is about to embark on building a grand new headquarters for the Health Unit.

More important is that the Medical Officer of Health didn’t come to Parry Sound to speak with the people who reside here, but just the council he wants to impose fluoridation. The most important people for Dr. Chirico to speak with are members of the public who most obviously don’t believe, nor trust what he has to say. In only addressing his interest and remarks to council, he has certainly damaged his credibility and with it that of his profession. How does one put a price on this?

Council, however, still has the opportunity at hand to make a decision in the best interest of Parry Sound. By voting not to spend the $250,000 on a safe handling facility for the dangerous chemical, the council would not be signaling in any official way that they believe the drinking water is endangered by adding fluoride at the very small, recommended levels. It is simply acknowledging they can’t afford the required upgrades to keep their staff safe.

Otherwise, it looks like the Town of Parry Sound is headed for a plebiscite on this issue which will not do anything for the advancement of civil discourse, public health, protection of taxpayers’ money, or the betterment of the community.

During the debate in June to continue fluoridation of drinking water the council members were quick to cite the qualifications and science Dr. Chirico brought to the table.

Now would be an appropriate time to acknowledge the tenacity and determination residents are bringing on an issue that has their clear and undivided attention.

Ready for a fluoride referendum?

COF-COF News FindBy: Stephannie Johnson, Parry Sound North Star, Parry Sound, Ontario 11-Nov-2015 – Parry Sound and McDougall ratepayers, there could be a referendum regarding water fluoridation in your future.

Deputations against the town’s decision to keep its water fluoridated are becoming more frequent, as the group Parry Sound for Progressive Water Management is keeping the pressure on council to remove the chemical from its water.

Last week, the group’s representative Karen Birch was given permission to show council a 20 minute video, Our Daily Dose, by Jeremy Seifert laying out the dangers of water fluoridation.

The town has been fluoridating the water with hydrofluosilicic acid since the 1960s at a cost between $4,500 to $5,000 annually. In June, when council decided to keep its water status quo, staff suggested it would need to upgrade the way the chemical is dispensed into the system to ensure the safety of staff.

In September, a report was brought to council outlining the necessary $250,000 upgrades to the plant, which were approved.

“Although council has already made the decision to upgrade the fluoride system in the Tony Agnello Water Treatment plant as being in the best interest of the public they serve, the question of holding a referendum (or plebiscite) to let the residents of Parry Sound decide on this issue rose a number of times during deputations,” wrote Peter Brown, town director of public works in his report to council. “As a result, staff were asked to look into what would be involved in holding a referendum to discontinue adding fluoride to the town’s drinking water.”

At a cost of $19,000 plus staff time, a referendum could be held if 10 per cent of both Parry Sound and McDougall Township’s electorate signed a petition wanting fluoride from the drinking water system.

Because the town provides drinking water to some McDougall Township residents, least 10 per cent is needed from them as well, said town clerk Jackie Boggs.

“(The petition) does not get forwarded to our council or McDougall, it gets forwarded to the Chief Electoral Officer…most plebiscites, in fact any plebiscite I could find on this issue or any other issue was handled through a municipal election and a question was put on the ballot. That’s the most cost-effective way to do it. You’re having a municipal election, it costs nothing to put a question on the ballot,” Boggs said. If a petition did come forward and they did have the required 10 per cent of the electorate for both municipalities, it would go to the Chief Electoral Officer. We’re really not involved in it at that point, until we hear from the Chief Electoral Officer. My understanding is that it would include us checking every name on the list to ensure that they are actually eligible to vote in this election for the Town of Parry Sound and presumably McDougall would be doing the same.”

Coun. Paul Borneman asked Brown if there was a way for the water treatment plant could continue on as is for another three years, until the next election.

“In my humble opinion the worst possible outcome here is that we spend a significant amount of money only to see a system discontinued in a very short period of time,” Borneman said. “That’s not to say that I don’t continue to support council’s decision, it’s that I’m cheap and I don’t want to see good money spent turn bad. The system that’s in existence, can we limp along with that system for the next three years?”

Brown said it was a difficult question to answer, as staff are put in direct contact with the chemical on a daily basis.

“That’s why we’re here today, or one of the reasons why we’re here, because it’s considered unsafe for the staff and we have to upgrade the system,” said Brown. “As with any part of the water plant, it needs to be replaced, things wear out, we need to upgrade things. The fluoride system needs to be upgraded; it needs to be made safe for the staff. I have the kick-off meeting with the engineers on Thursday (Nov. 5) to start the process…so they can start doing the design and prep work. I’ve been given, as you said, orders by council to proceed with this, so that’s how I am proceeding.”

Council approved receipt of the report and agreed to have a copy provided to McDougall Township.

Monday afternoon, Birch said the group intends to start knocking on Parry Sound and McDougall Township doors in about two weeks to solicit signatures for their petition for the removal of fluoride from the water system.

An alternative to the $19,000 referendum, or waiting until the next municipal election in 2018, would be for the council member on the prevailing side of the original vote (to upgrade the town’s water treatment plant) to provide a Notice of Motion at a council meeting. Then the motion would come before council at the following meeting.

Council urged to carefully weigh fluoride decision

COF-COF News FindBy: Gord Young, The Nugget, North Bay, Ontario, 03-Nov-2015 – City politicians were urged Monday to seek expert advice before deciding to remove fluoride from the city’s drinking water.

Liza Vandermeer, a former area official with the Ministry of Environment, called on council Monday to carefully weigh all information and to consult with the district’s medical officer of health, as well as local dentists before doing away with fluoridation of the city’s water supply.

“There’s a lot of very valid information out there from credible sources like Public Health Ontario and the Canadian Dental Association as to why it’s important to fluoridate water for a population,” said Vandermeer, acknowledging that city politicians who under pressure to control municipal costs are facing a difficult decision.

A majority of council was supportive of no longer fluoridating the city’s drinking water during a recent water and sewer budget meeting. The move would save the city about $50,000.

Medical officer of health Dr. Jim Chirico, however, has since weighed in on the matter, suggesting taking fluoride out of the city’s tap water will result in only short-term savings and that there will be long-term dental costs for the most vulnerable, including children, the elderly and the disadvantaged. Chirico, who has indicated there’s $38 in avoided costs for dental treatment for every dollar invested in community water fluoridation, is expected to make a presentation to council on the matter later this month.

Vandermeer, meanwhile,suggested wouldn’t do away with something that costs a dollar per resident within the police or fire department budgets that improves the overall safety community.

And she countered arguments that support the removal fluoride based on the fact it is a hazardous workplace chemical at the city’s treatment plant, suggesting safeguards are in place including, personal protective clothing, the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) and Occupation Health and Safety Act.

Coun. Chris Mayne, who’s supportive of no longer adding fluoride to the city’s water, has indicated the move will eliminate a hazardous workplace chemical at the city’s treatment plant.

And he said Monday that although many people agree fluoride in the water supply is beneficial, many others have concerns.

Mayne suggested the question facing question facing council is whether to dose the entire water supply or to allow residents to choose for themselves if they want to use fluoridate at home.

But Vandermeer said it’s a much more complicated matter, noting other jurisdictions such as Europe that do not practice fluoridation have publicly-funded dental programs.