CORNWALL, Ontario – Cornwall’s drinking water will remain fluoride free.
A motion from Coun. Andre Rivette, that specifically asked council members if they were in favour of water fluoridation ended in a 5-5 tie.
Mayor Leslie O’Shaughnessy interpreted the move as the discontinuation of fluoridation in city water, though some city councillors are disputing that suggestion.
The problem lies in the fact that city policies mandate that Cornwall’s water must be fluoridated. Coun. Denis Carr floated the idea that a two-thirds majority of council must vote to change that sentiment, but he was overruled by the mayor.
Regardless of that vote, council did not vote on – or even discuss – spending $340,000 on upgrades to the water filtration plant that must be completed before fluoridation can resume in Cornwall.
O’Shaughnessy said the sentiment in the community was overwhelmingly against water fluoridation.
“Ten people have emailed me to tell me they want fluoride, as opposed to the hundreds who have told me they don’t want it,” said the mayor. “I’ve listened and reviewed the material sent to me…therefore, what I have been doing is listening to the people. Overwhelmingly the people have said they don’t want fluoride in their water. Whatever their reason doesn’t really matter. They are telling me to support them.”
O’Shaughnessy, as well as councillors Claude McIntosh, David Murphy, Maurice Dupelle and Carilyn Hebert voted against the continuation of water fluoridation.
The balance of city council, minus Coun. Justin Towndale who is on leave, voted to maintain the practice.
Coun. Bernadette Clement moved a motion, that was seconded by Coun. Elaine MacDonald, to have the issue put to the public by way of a question at the next municipal election.
That move was resoundinly defeated by council.
The city has been without fluoridated water for nearly three years, since a valve broke at the water filtration plant. To repair the valve and complete other health and safety upgrades would have cost $350,000.
COMMENTS FROM COUNCIL
“I can tell you that I have read almost everything that has been sent to me. I have watched everything that has been sent to me.
For me it’s about health care. On technical expertise I turn to our engineers and our urban planners. It doesn’t mean I agree with them…but I rely on their technical expertise. So why would I be different here?
All of these practitioners tell us this fluoridation of water is an appropriate health care measure. My feeling is I have to listen to physicians…and if they say this is a proper process then I have to agree with them.”
“We have to make a decision here. All the information we received here, was on the fluoride. Health and safety, that is a given. I can tell you, in Windsor they are putting it back in.
Council’s decision is to make a motion tonight and to deal with it.”
“We’ve heard from the pros and the cons. The residents of Cornwall elect us to make all the decisions, including the tough decisions. Tonight is the night we need to take the vote.”
“I’m convinced of the validity that our medical experts are telling us. Good sound public policy has to trump the vagaries of public choice. Not all opinions are equal.
How many dentists signed on giving the same opinions? Those opinions count for more than a thousand tweets and Facebook opinions.”
“I see no statistics of a mass epidemic (of dental maladies) in South Glengarry or the counties. The city started treating water in 1962, if it’s such a great thing why do we have five times more dentists than we had in 1962?”
“There’s no doubt about it we have been inundated with information. The process purifies the water and the fluoride is added to protect young people in particular. We have never, ever taken actions that would put any of our employees in danger.
To suggest that we would is terrible.”
“If this is public policy, it’s easy – make it public policy. They did it with smoking, why not this? Vaccines are optional – this isn’t. It’s in our water.
There are options to ensure the people who want fluoride get their fluoride.”
“We are now the most educated to make this decision. We’ve heard it all. I’m still not an expert on this, but I have put a lot of work into reading and watching videos.”
Coun. Mark MacDonald made no public comments on the issue.