February 23, 2019

Archives for January 28, 2016

Fluoride is out

COF-COF Special News FindBy: Stephannie Johnson, Parry Sound North Star, Parry Sound, Ontario 28-Jan-2016 –  After a seven-month battle, members of Parry Sounders for Progressive Water Management let out a cheer Tuesday night after council rescinded its June 2015 resolution approving upgrades to the Tony Agnello Water Treatment Plant; the upgrades were necessary to continue fluoridating the municipal water supply.

The upgrade would have cost taxpayers $250,000.

The motion to upgrade the water treatment plant was brought back to the table by Coun. Paul Borneman.

Admitting he doesn’t know any more scientifically now then he did in June, Tuesday night Borneman said there is a great deal of public concern.

“I think for council to continue on its current path, ignores the concerns, but puts us on a course to spend money either on a referendum in the near future and/or upgrades to the plant, which may or may not be required in the future,” Borneman said. “I think what’s proposed this evening is a compromise, it discontinues fluoride in the short term.”

Borneman said come the next municipal election in 2018, all of Parry Sound could have their say, with a question posed on the ballot, asking voters if they want their water fluoridated or not.

“I spoke to Mr. (Peter) Brown (director of public works) about the potential of limping along with this system through to 2018. I don’t think that would meet with the approval of those that signed the petition and it certainly would be in question whether the safety of our staff and the safety of our water supply would be adequate in the interim. That to me is not an option,” Borneman said. “This give is maybe not the best of both worlds, but I think it’s the lesser of the evils….(I believe in) responsiveness to the public will. To simply ignore a grassroots, ground up organization that…far exceeded 10 per cent of the electorate required to take this to a referendum, I think that’s not a responsive idea. At the end of the day it’s not our opinion that matters, it will be the will of the people who decide whether we have fluoride in the water in Parry Sound or not.”

Coun. Bonnie Keith vehemently opposed the resolution saying council made its decision in June and it should stick by it and the scientific experts who vouch for the safety and effectiveness of fluoride.

“The extensive empirical data and peer reviews and findings and trust that is built when you have over 90 organizations around the world – including the World Health Organization and of course our own Health Canada and Ministry of Health and our own local public health and our own local medical and dental professionals – who came out and spoke and explained why the support of the fluoride and having it in our water and why it is a benefit.”

Keith went on to say it is important to stay focused on what is best for the community and not let emotions dictate decision-making.

“I’ve heard different comments in the community that basically there’s 90 per cent of the residents in the community support removing fluoride. Well that I think is wholly in correct.”

I know that my telephone has been ringing recently regarding comments in both directions. There are many people that may not have come to a council meeting but are saying that they want fluoride to continue,” she said. “After looking at all of this, if there’s enough interest that we need to have a plebiscite, then I say let’s have the plebiscite let’s get to doing it. I want to hear from a majority of people, not from a small percentage.”

Coun. Doug McCann said initially he, along with all of council wanted to keep fluoride in and has since changed his mind.

“Science is ever-evolving and I am here to support this not to save money – although that is important – but I firmly believe it should be removed,” McCann said.

Although Coun. Jim Marshall said he hasn’t been convinced that fluoride removal is necessary; he supported the resolution because he didn’t want to hold a referendum.

“I don’t want the resources of the town to be taken up with this debate any longer…every second email that I get during the course of the day is about this issue and I think we’ve got a lot of things to deal with…I’m quite happy to wait until 2018; we’ve got two-and-three-quarter years to debate the issues. …with an election in 2018 I think there will be some excellent, open dialogue on both sides and in the end the people of Parry Sound and McDougall can make their decisions at that point and make a very informed decision. This has been a gut-wrenching experience for everybody…I think we need to put this to an end tonight.”

For Coun. Keith Saulnier, he saw this issue as an exercise in respect.

“While we may disagree on the science, you’ve respected my decision, as I’ve tried to respect yours – it’s the Canadian way. What we can agree on is the democratic method and good for your group for exercising your rights,” he said. It will be interesting to see your group battle Health Canada for the next 26 months for the voters hearts and minds. It will be really interesting to have it on the ballot, right under amalgamation.”

Town clerk Jackie Boggs said the next direction is for the town to notify the Ministry of Health of its intentions with two bylaws; one for Parry Sound, the other for McDougall Township. Once passed, fluoride will stop being injected into the municipal water system.

“Our notice policy indicates that a draft bylaw has to go out to the public for 21 days so everybody can have a look at it and comment on it,” Boggs said.

Prior to the rescinded resolution’s passing, Borneman said he wants the senior levels of government to become involved with fluoridation and requested staff contact Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP Norm Miller, Parry Sound-Muskoka MP Tony Clement as well as the federal and provincial ministries of health.

“I think that the feds and the province have really hung people like us out to dry. Health Canada, the ministries at both levels have expressed an opinion that fluoride is a good thing,” Borneman said. “Peel Region have been battling this for sometime and they expect within the next month they’re going to be taking steps similar to what we took tonight. The federal ministry today basically said that the feds have no power to impose their will or authority in this area. Mr. Brown will tell you that since Walkerton the province has inundated municipalities with regulations with respect to water that govern how much chlorine and where it’s being tested and how often it’s being tested but they haven’t seen fit to enter the fray with respect to fluoride. Send a letter saying it’s time to deal with this in a well-thought out manner, step up and give us the expertise. It’s time that senior levels of government get involved with this.”

In a recorded vote, all of council voted in favour of the resolution, except Coun. Bonnie Keith.

Almost immediately after council approved the upgrades in June, a group of concerned citizens formed and began voicing their opposition through letters, phone calls and deputations to council.

By November 2015 the group suggested a referendum to let Parry Sound and McDougall residents decide if they wanted their water fluoridated.

McDougall Township has been purchasing water from the town since 2007.

At a cost of $19,000 plus staff time, a referendum would be held if 10 per cent of both Parry Sound and McDougall’s electorate signed a petition wanting fluoride removed.

At the beginning of this month, members of the group headed out on foot canvassing the streets of Parry Sound soliciting signatures in support of removing fluoride.

More than 90 per cent of those polled in Parry Sound wanted the chemical out, while surveys sent to McDougall residents showed that 87 respondents wanted fluoride out, and 13 wanted to keep fluoride in the water.

Joe Moloney, a member of Parry Sounders for Progressive Water Management said he was pleased with council’s decision and said it was thanks to the dedication and work of a powerful group that made it happen.

“We think that a majority council made a wise decision in listening to the electorate – the electorate has the final say. Maybe things are changing since the 1950s when the general population didn’t have access to all of the information out there,” Moloney said Wednesday afternoon. “It’s funny that the electorate was asked not to go on the computer and do their research – and we do think it’s great that people have done their research and came to their own conclusions.”


Debate on water fluoridation back on tap for Peel council

COF-COF News FindBy: Roger Belgrave, The Mississauga News, Mississauga, Ontario 28-Jan-2016 – Peel Regional councillors have agreed to take a deeper look at merits and possible health risks associated with fluoridation of municipal drinking water and conduct broader public consultation on the longstanding practice.

During a regular meeting Thursday, councillors passed a motion to have a committee carry out a broad review of the issue and seek wide public opinion on whether the region should continue water fluoridation.

Councillors heard from experts on both sides of the debate during a special Jan. 21 closed-door meeting organized as an education session for the politicians.

In April 2011, the debate on local water fluoridation was closed when council unanimously voted to continue the practice Peel has been conducting for more than 40 years.

Council heard from a number of health officials, including Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, before concluding water fluoridation is a valuable public health tool in fighting poor oral health and other ailments that can stem from oral illnesses.

A vocal and persistent segment of the community argues exposure to the chemical on such a grand and widespread scale is actually harmful to public health.

Last year, council agreed to form a subcommittee to help educate newly elected councillors on the issue.

After last week’s education session, there came rumblings about growing political support for doing away with water fluoridation in Peel.

“I don’t think that’s doing our due diligence,” remarked Mississauga councillor Jim Tovey, who suggested Thursday that a decision of this magnitude cannot be made after an 80-minute education session and without broad public consultation.

Many other councillors who supported tasking a committee to conduct further review and consultation echoed his position.

Despite the issue being closed years ago, there appears to be some difference of opinion on the current council.

Last Monday, a joint letter signed by the mayors of Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon expressed support for the continued use of fluoride in municipal drinking water as a protective health measure.

Mississauga councillor Carolyn Parrish said she disapproved of Mississauga mayor Bonnie Crombie issuing that public position without consulting the rest of council.

“It really puts us all in an awkward position, particularly those who don’t agree,” Parrish said.

Brampton councillor John Sprovieri, who has been a vocal opponent of fluoridation, questions why municipalities are responsible for water fluoridation instead of the provincial government.

According to Region staff, the municipality spends about $450,000 annually to add fluoride to the drinking water. Last year, Peel bought about 460,000 kilograms of fluoride, staff told council.