The City of Red Deer still has a divided opinion on whether or not fluoride should remain in drinking water, but the next step is further public education.
Council agreed to continue with an education campaign that is expected to cost another $15,000. “The result of the last consultation showed that people were strongly in support of education and consultation,” said Tara Shand, senior communications consultant.
The plan for the next phase of the campaign is to bring in a series of expert speakers to present to both the public and to City council. The City will then host a public discussion during which time people can converse with council.
“We need to make it very clear that we want the public there. If we don’t have the public there then we’ve missed the boat,” said Councillor Lynne Mulder.
The proposed date for the panel and discussion is Sept. 11. Following the event, council could be considering a decision on how to proceed with the fluoridation issue as early as Oct. 1.
Mayor Morris Flewwelling said the most important thing is to get the date out there so that as many people can attend as possible.
Shand said that the event would be video broadcast so that those who couldn’t attend could at least view it online and there may be potential for feedback to be provided online in a forum type format.
“To provide the opportunity to hear both sides of the issue here is pretty important,” said Councillor Cindy Jefferies.
City Manager Craig Curtis said that in light of the turnout for the public meeting at council chambers regarding fluoride, larger venues would be considered.
“We are looking off site at venues that can hold 100 to 200,” said Curtis.
Councillor Chris Stephan supported the motion to continue with the campaign but said he feels there is an appetite in the community for this issue to be dealt with.
“If there is such an appetite for this then it should just be going to plebiscite. Having more community input is a good thing but if we keep putting more money into this we are hearing concerns in terms of the funding.”
He said at this stage in the process with all the public consultation that has been done he would rather see the issue go to plebiscite during the net election. “Doing so would be even cheaper than just this part of the process.”
Council voted unanimously in favour to receive the report for information.