City to look at next step in fluoridation debate

Red Deer city council will decide the next step in the city’s water fluoridation debate on Monday.

Red Deer city council will decide the next step in the city’s water fluoridation debate on Monday.

A city administration report going to council recommends further community consultation before council debates whether to continue, stop or change the amount of fluoride added to the city’s water supply.

It will also recommend that a community jury, representing city and regional water customers, be developed to provide the community consultation and education.

Based on public consultation to date, the majority of people want more consultation and education.

A jury would hear information about fluoridation, including from experts.

Jury selection would begin on April 1 and the findings brought back to city council in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Between Nov. 1, 2011, and Jan. 25, 2012, community consultation took place through a survey, face-to-face discussion at a community café, and through online discussion with city councillors.

Out of 495 people who answered the survey, 48 per cent wanted city council to make its decision based on in-depth public consultation, 31 per cent wanted council to make a decision with the information they already have, and 26 per cent wanted a decision made by plebiscite, which would exclude regional customers from participating.

Administration did not recommend a plebiscite.

Public consultation and education in advance of council debate, which was recommended by city staff, would cost $60,000.

A plebiscite in advance of the 2013 municipal election would cost $100,000 to $150,000, while a plebiscite in conjunction with the election would cost $5,000.

Public consultation and education in advance of a plebiscite would cost $30,000.

The cost a plebiscite during an election would become part of the 2013 election budget.

Other options would have to be funded by the city’s tax stabilization reserve.