Cornwall will not put fluoride in drinking water

(Newswatch Group/File)

CORNWALL – The City of Cornwall will not be putting fluoride back into the drinking water.

City council decided Tuesday night not put off the long-standing issue of putting fluoride in the drinking water supply.

The city was forced to stop fluoridating the water supply in 2013 after a piece of equipment broke and there hasn’t been fluoride added since.

The city has also seen experts in their fields make presentations to council at least twice since that time.

Coun. Bernadette Clement got a seconder from Coun. Elaine MacDonald (corrected from an earlier version suggesting Andre Rivette seconded the motion) to delay the vote until 2018.

“This motion is not about putting it off, it’s about putting it to the people,” Clement said.

But her motion was defeated 7-3.

There was a lengthy discussion from councillors and their positions prior to the final vote on the issue.

“I have been around the table and I have rarely seen a topic catch the people’s attention,” Clement said. “I can tell you that I have read almost everything that has been sent to me. At the end of the day, for me it’s about health care and I’m not an engineer. I’m not an urban planner so I turn to the engineers…planners. So why would I be different here on health care?” Clement asked rhetorically.

“My feeling is I have to listen to the clinicians,” she said.

Coun. Elaine MacDonald backed Clement’s suggestion to put it off for a public vote in 2018. She suggested the two years would allow for more feedback from “medical experts.” MacDonald thought the five year span without fluoride would give the city a good indication of the effects of not having it in the water.

“My beliefs are, we need to make a decision here,” Coun. Andre Rivette said. “Health and safety that’s a given.” Rivette cited Windsor, Ont. saying the municipality took out fluoride and is now putting it back in. “I will not vote for your motion (Bernadette Clement),” he said.

“Maybe we should have done it way back,” Coun. Maurice Dupelle suggested on a public review. “I think the residents of Cornwall elect us to make the tough decisions. Tonight is the night we need to take the vote.”

Coun. Claude McIntosh was surprised by the councillors who want to put off fluoridation in the water, quoting Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, who said dentists would be working 24/7.

“If it’s such a great thing why do we have five times more dentists than in 1962?” McIntosh said. “Putting it off isn’t going to change many minds.”

“We have never, ever taking any actions that put our employees at danger,” Coun. Denis Carr asserted, on suggestions of unsafe working conditions at the water treatment plant.

“We already have fluoride in the water from the St. Lawrence River and this is just adding more,” said a dissenting Coun. David Murphy.

“He (Dr. Paul Roumeliotis) talked about vaccines. Vaccines are optional. This is forced ingestion,” Murphy stated.

Coun. Carilyne Hebert said she originally thought about a referendum but now thinks she was elected to make the tough decisions. “We are the most educated (ten people) in this community to make this decision. I’m still not an expert on this,” Hebert said.

“We are elected to make decisions (and) a lot are governed by regulation. This is one of the opportunities to listen to what the people say. I’ve listened. What I have been doing is listening to the people. Their reasoning in theirs. Whatever reasons they’re telling me they don’t want in their water.”

A final vote to continue fluoride in the water was defeated in a 5-5 tie vote, further inciting arguments after the vote on the legality of the motion.

Justin Towndale was not here for the vote as he is away on leave.

Council later approved the $43,170 contract to remove the fluoride equipment and chemicals from the water treatment plant given tonight’s decision. The work will be done by an Ingleside company.

How they voted on the question to continue fluoride in Cornwall’s drinking water:

Yes: Elaine MacDonald, Denis Carr, Bernadette Clement, Mark MacDonald, Andre Rivette

No: Leslie O’Shaughnessy, Carilyne Hebert, Claude McIntosh, Maurice Dupelle, David Murphy

Absent: Justin Towndale