Windsor's mayor says province should determine to fluoridate or not

Windsor's mayor and a city councillor are defending the decision to remove fluoride from the city's drinking water.

The great fluoride debate is back and set to go to council in the coming weeks

Windsor's mayor and a city councillor are defending the decision to remove fluoride from the city's drinking water.

Drew Dilkens was one of those who voted in favour of this five years ago, when he was still a city councillor.

The mayor said he does not regret the change, in spite of a health unit report showing tooth decay in children has become a bigger problem in the years that followed.

"This should never be a decision that city councils have to make," said Dilkens. "If there is a public health benefit to the addition of fluoride to the drinking water system, the province needs to step forward and say that it should be mandated or excluded from all water systems in the province of Ontario."

Dilkens said he made the best choice based on the information in front of him.

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said he stands by his 2013 vote on fluoride. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

"This really should be a scientific decision, and the province has a responsibility here to step forward and make that decision."

Dilkens said he's not sure how he will vote when the fluoride debate comes back before council in the coming weeks.

Coun. Bill Marra also voted to remove fluoride from drinking water in that 2013 vote, and he stands by his decision as well. He said the group advocating to remove fluoride was better organized than the health unit at that time.

Coun. Bill Marra said advocates against fluoridation had stronger arguments than the health unit, when the decision came to council in 2013. He's not sure how he'll vote this time around. (Jason Viau/CBC)

"They really made the discussion about choice, casting enough doubt that there were concerns associated with having fluoride in water," said Marra.

"Some people call it junk science. I took it at face value the way it was presented, and at the time, there was enough doubt cast in my mind and certainly other options available, that I went in the direction that I did with my seven colleagues on council."

Marra added it was always the plan to review council's decision on fluoride five years later, and said now is a good time, before municipal elections in the fall. 

"I'm going to keep my mind very open to this because we need to hear both sides of the debate," he said.