An anti-fluoridation lobby group is claiming victory following a vote in Churchill Tuesday night on the question of treating the town’s water supply.

Mark Brackley, spokesman for Churchill No Fluoride, said residents voted 58 per cent against continued fluoridation.

“We’ve been plugging away in the community for three years,” Brackley said. “People were passionate on both sides but people educated themselves and it showed in the vote.”

The plebiscite is not binding on the Churchill town council but Brackley said he expects councillors to follow the will of the majority and move to stop fluoridating the town’s water supply.

In the plebiscite, voters were asked: Should Churchill continue fluoridating its water?

Brackley said there was a 28 per cent voter turnout — 159 people cast a ballot out of a possible 568 voters.

Brackley said the turnout is considered high for a plebiscite in a non-election year.

Town officials could not be reached for comment.

There is a growing trend across Canada to stop fluoridating water supplies, on the controversial belief that fluoridation has no real proven benefits and is harmful to health. Flin Flon stopped adding fluoride to its water supply at the end of July and Calgary stopped in May.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States said past and current reviews of scientific studies found no basis to claims that fluoride poses a health hazard. The CDC describes fluoridation as one of the “ten great public health achievements,” but it does advise that children’s exposure from birth to age six should be restricted.

Before the Churchill plebiscite, a spokeswoman for Manitoba Health said it supported continued fluoridation as an effective way to combat tooth decay.

Winnipeg has been fluoridating its water since 1956. The city recently lowered the fluoride content from 0.85 milligrams per litre to 0.7 mg/L, based on recommendations from Health Canada and Manitoba Health.

Brackley said he believes most members of Churchill council agree to stop fluoridation, adding he will attend the next meeting to pressure council to follow the plebiscite outcome.