Council has agreed to fund a “public consultation strategy” to communicate the merits and drawbacks of the fluoridation of the City’s water supply.
On Tuesday night, council approved up to $33,000 for Communications Solutions Inc. to develop a public education strategy around fluoridation.
The move is in response to a recommendation by the City’s Water Advisory Committee to create a plan for the discontinuation of fluoridation of the City’s water supply.
A recent World Health Organization report included in a council report advises municipalities investigate the need for fluoride given that the general public receives fluoride in food, drink and oral hygiene products.
It is also suggested that injecting fluoride into drinking water systems, “can have a significant reduction in the number of cavities in children in those communities that do not fluoridate their water supply.”
The City has been injecting fluoride into the water since 1969 after it was passed in a referendum.
One of the reasons the City may be interested in discontinuing the process could be the increasing difficulty in securing fluoride. The 1,100-litre totes currently used to contain the fluoride are no longer available to be refilled in B.C. and therefore the City would have to access them in Manitoba.
The City estimates the cost of transporting the totes to and from Manitoba would be $2,250 per trip, not including the cost of the fluoride which is $1.65 per kilogram. Transportation would occur 16 times a year.
The City’s current budget for fluoridation is $22,246.
According to information provided by the City, the communities of Burns Lake, Campbell River, Kamloops, Kelowna and Smithers are some that have stopped the use of fluoride. Cranbrook, Fort St. John, Lake Cowichan, Prince George and Prince Rupert continue to use it.
In making the decision, the City can either hold a referendum to repeal the fluoride bylaw or apply for ministerial approval to repeal the bylaw, which may be subject to terms and conditions.
The City has said that if the referendum was chosen it would be attached to this November’s municipal vote.
The communications strategy, said the City, is intended to educational and is unbiased.