Calgarians vote yes to fluoride in city water supply

Calgarian have voted to add fluoride back to the city's water supply.

"I’m thrilled," said Juliet Guichon, a University of Calgary medical bioethicist and the campaign manager with Fluoride Yes!

"And I'm sure I speak on behalf of the small but mighty team in saying we're delighted that Calgarians will benefit now from fluoridation again."

Calgary stopped adding fluoride to its drinking water in 2011 as directed by city council.

Plebiscites on the fluoridation of Calgary's drinking water have been held six times: in 1999, 1989, 1971, 1966, 1961 and 1957.

"I think Calgarians had already voted twice for fluoridation in two plebiscites and they were dismayed that city council acted against their wishes and medical advice in removing fluoridation, and they had decades of fluoridation, they knew how valuable it was," said Guichon.

"Then they had a decade of decay, they'd seen their dental bills rise and they suffered, so it wasn't too hard a sell from our perspective, we just had to remind them of what had happened.

"And I think the pandemic has caused people to appreciate public health all the more."

Monday's vote is non-binding, meaning the issue must now go before city council once again and Guichon says she plans to continue their pressure.

"We're asking all our supporters to keep all their signs on their lawns or in their windows until city council has instructed water engineering to go ahead and purchase the necessary equipment," she said. 

"And we will continue to remind the new (councillors) that we're here, and we're watching, because we care a lot about what's happened, particularly to children as a result of the loss of fluoridation."

The city says the estimated cost to reintroduce fluoride is approximately $6 million to upgrade the dormant fluoridation system.