Council chooses referendum question

Council has settled on the fluoridation referendum question it will put to residents as part of the municipal election Nov. 19.

Council has settled on the fluoridation referendum question it will put to residents as part of the municipal election Nov. 19.

The referendum will ask Williams Lake residents: “The cost to add fluoride to the City’s water system is increasing from $22,000/year to approximately $94,000 per year. Are you in favour of the City continuing to add fluoride to its water supply?”

According to a report from City staff, three possible referendum questions were tested by the City’s communication consultant using a focus group with the chosen one found to “give people the best information” to make their decision.

The report goes on to say, “Given it provides the best information and is easy to understand, the recommendation is to use option one as the referendum question on the ballot in their year’s local government election.”

Geoff Goodall, general manager for planning and operations, told council it was important to get the referendum bylaw in place in time for the upcoming municipal election.

The City is not currently injecting fluoride into the water system.

A report from the City’s Water Advisory Committee in May recommended the municipality investigate whether Williams Lake should continue to inject fluoride into the water system.

In addition to the mixed data regarding the ongoing benefits of injecting fluoride when the public ingests the element in the form of food, drink and oral hygiene products, the City says its former supplier no longer refills 1,100 litre totes in B.C.; the City’s purchasing department says it has been unable to locate any other supplier in the province that will supply fluoride in the manner required for the type of container. Therefore, the City would have to purchase them from Manitoba at the cost of  $94,400 per year; it currently budgets $22,246 for fluoridation.

The two discarded questions were: “Should the City continue to add fluoride to its municipal water system?” and “Are you in favour of the City continuing to add fluoride to its water supply, at triple the current cost of $22,000.”

At a special meeting, Sept. 20, council will reconsider and adopt the referendum question bylaw.

Residents can communicate their thoughts or find out more information on fluoridation by e-mailing fluoride@williamslake.ca, visiting www.surveymonkey.com/s/williamslake_fluoride_survey, or visiting www.williamslake.ca/fluoride.

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