Windsor’s city council has voted in favour of re-introducing fluoride into the city’s drinking water.

Council voted 8-3 in favour of the measure, reversing a 2013 decision to remove the additive.

Scores of delegates spoke to the issue – including doctors, dentists, residents and business owners – with people on both sides of the issue.

Dr. Wajid Ahmed of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit presented evidence that Windsor has seen a 51 per cent increase in tooth decay since the removal of fluoride from the water supply five years ago.

Ahmed, the acting medical officer of health, says four out of five people surveyed indicated a preference to put fluoride back in the water – and calls it a great win for the community.

“We have been advocating for oral health of our community, it has been deteriorating quite badly, and we needed to take action. We are happy to see council has made the right decision,” Ahmed said after the meeting. “It’s not the only solution, but it is one of the solutions that we can do as a community and we can show our responsibility to the community by adding community water fluoridation.”

“There has to be a balance between individual right versus the community right,” Ahmed said.

Douglas Hayes, who spoke at council Monday night as a representative of the Council of Canadians, Windsor Essex Chapter, said he was clearly disappointed with the decision.

“The reason I’m disappointed is what they’re adding to our drinking water is hydrofluorosilicic acid, which is a toxic chemical from the fertilizer industry and it contains all sorts of toxic substances like lead, some cadmium, some mercury and other contaminants,” he said. “Now all of those contaminants are going into our water system.”

“Hopefully the fight isn’t over. Maybe we’ll have another go at it,” he said.

There are still a number of procedural steps that must take place prior to re-fluoridation.

Windsor supplies neighbouring towns of Tecumseh and LaSalle with water – and a majority, in this case, two-thirds, must approve the measure.

Assuming Windsor receives approval from at least one neighbouring town, the city must also draft and approve a new bylaw and purchase about $850,000 worth of equipment to apply the fluoride into the water supply.