Ward 13 Coun. Dianne Colley-Urquhart.
Gavin Young / Postmedia
One city councillor is hoping for open minds from her council colleagues as she brings forth a notice of motion requesting approval for a study on water fluoridation.Coun. Diane Colley-Urquhart will bring forth at Monday’s council meeting the same notice of motion she did in 2016 requesting a study be conducted by the University of Calgary’s O’Brien Institute for Public Health examining fluoridation in water.“I voted in 2011 to take fluoride out … It had been in (water) for a while and there was really no evidence at that time to say ‘well, is it going to cause harm by taking it out?’” she said.“I met with executives and administration at Alberta Health right after that election in 2013 and I said ‘if you guys go and do some research on the impact removing it will have, has had, then I’m open-minded to bringing it forward again,’ which I did.”The city voted in 2012 to remove fluoride from its public water supply at the time and, as a result, the number of children with tooth decay rose from 225 in 2013 to 745 in 2015, Colley-Urquhart’s notice of motion states.Beyond that, the number of children being seen through the mobile Alex Dental Health bus doubled between 2013 and 2016, rising to 1,607 visits in 2016.When Colley-Urquhart brought forth the motion years ago, it was shot down by members of city council. With five new councillors, she hopes they will be willing to reexamine the hot topic.“I wanted them to see first-hand what the notice of motion was and I wanted them to see it’s basically the same thing (as in 2016),” she said.“Before people’s hair catches on fire, I’m just asking a few things. This is not about putting fluoride in water and it’s not about keeping it out. It’s about us making the best public policy decision we can based on what the evidence tells us.“I don’t want this to get into a debate Monday. I’m asking people to be open-minded, to have the research and the in-depth study done by looking at all the validated research that’s out there.”Last December, the city of Windsor voted 8-3 in favour of reintroducing fluoride. It reversed an 8-3 vote from 2013 that removed it from water, citing a 51 per cent increase in serious tooth decay among kids over five years.Dr. William Ghali, director for the O’Brien Institute of Public Health, said if the motion ahead of council passes, they would work to do two things for council.“One is to compile a set of questions council and directors at the city of Calgary might have about fluoride … and we’re proposing to have a group of experts … to provide evidence-based, scholarly responses,” said Ghali of what could be about benefits, harms, economic and ethical and legal considerations of fluoridation.“You have to take into account health beliefs, whether those beliefs are not factually based, driven by religious belief or just a fixed health belief that goes against the evidence. There are dimensions where you have to think of health beliefs and respective individuals weighing against public health protection.”A good example of that, Ghali said, is distracted driving.“Some people may want to drive with their cell phones and talk on their cell phones, but because there’s evidence it can cause accidents and cause death, it’s now illegal to do so,” he said.“That’s an example of the rights of the collective weigh greater than the rights of the individual. The other angle is there’s benefits for your teeth, some of the people that are concerned about fluoride said ‘it might be harmful for the brain, bone health.’”firstname.lastname@example.org | @zjlaing