Let's Fix Calgary's Democratic Decay
When people speak, politicians should listen.
In the last 30 years, Calgarians have voted twice to have fluoride added to their municipal drinking war - most recently in 1999.
It was a clear, democratic direction to City Hall.
But in 2011, City Council chose to ignore the decision of voters and in a Council vote ended the practice of adding fluoride to Calgary's water.
Since then, studies examining the impact of removing fluoride from our water have revealed to key facts:
1. Rates of tooth decay in Calgary have increased dramatically compared to those of cities who still have fluoridated water (like Edmonton).
2. Removing fluoride has disproportionately impacted young children and poorer Calgarians who don't have regular access to dentists.
Proponents of fluoride point to the positive health impacts fluoride has - the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention list municipal water fluoridation as one of the top 10 advances in public health in the last century.
Opponents point to the cost of fluoridation and question the health benefits.
While there may be some disagreement over fluoridation in drinking water, one fact remains undisputed:
Calgarians voted to have fluoride added to our water, and it should have been Calgarians - and not City Council - who decided if it should be removed.
Council's disregard for the democratic direction provided by Calgary voters is typical of a City Hall that thinks it knows better than everyday Calgarians.
Now, Council is revisiting the matter, and Save Calgary believes that City Council's obligation is to either respect the will of voters as expressed in the 1999 plebiscite, which was to fluoridate Calgary's drinking water, or to hold another plebiscite and to ask Calgary voters for democratic direction on this issue.
In terms of the cost, Save Calgary believes that money could be found for fluoridation by eliminating funding for those public art projects which are widely loathed and ridiculed by Calgarians, including:
• The "eyesore under construction" known as the Bowfort Towers - cost $420,000.
• The yet-to-be-named steel stick boomerangs - cost $911,000.
• And the infamous Big Blue Ring lamppost - cost $470,000.
As was seen during last year's Olympics plebiscite, when given the chance to express their opinion, Calgarians will jump at the opportunity.
We hope City Council has seen the error of its ways and ends the democratic decay in Calgary.