Opponents of the proposed plan to build a Deep Geological Repository in South Bruce often cite concerns about the significant changes such a plan will bring about to the local community. If it happens, this multi-billion-dollar investment will mean more trucks, buildings, traffic and workers from outside our area. We residents of South Bruce have things pretty good. Do we really want all that change? I have to say, I’m very tempted to want to keep things just the way they are. I have my little spot in the country on a quiet road, and I quite like it the way it is.
However, my own conscience begs me to think about how I got here, and what I might do to create similar opportunities for others in the future. I grew up on a Bruce County dairy farm, the youngest of 7 children. The farm would continue to support one of us, so six of us, including me, went to find work elsewhere. I managed to land a successful career in computer technology, but in that field, nearly all the work is in large cities. So we settled in London, and soon understood that the work may take us to a larger city like Toronto, Ottawa or Boston.
But then, in mid-career, I got an opportunity to return to Bruce County and work at Bruce Nuclear, where I discovered hundreds like me born and raised in the Bruce. Some got jobs after high school or college, and worked their entire careers at the site. Others, like me, moved away to find a career, then moved back to work in the nuclear industry. We were very fortunate to find good high-paying, high-tech jobs right here. So we settled down here, made good money, and spent most of it right here in the local economy. We bought furniture and clothing from local merchants, cars from the local dealerships, meat and produce from local farmers. We hired local contractors to renovate our homes, and put our kids through the local schools, providing work for teachers and administrators. All of this provided income and benefit to the local economy, and gave others the chance to live and work and prosper here, instead of moving to the city.
Why was I afforded this great opportunity? Because, back in the 60’s and 70’s, forward-looking people, backed by an ambitious government program, took on the audacious plan to build and operate the world’s largest nuclear generating facility, right here in Bruce County. Was it a perfect plan? No. Did it involve some level of risk? Yes. Did it enrich the lives of my family and thousands of other families over the years? Absolutely.
Now we have the opportunity to make a similar decision here in South Bruce. We can choose the safe status quo, and keep our cozy homes, farms and villages just the way they are, or we can choose progress and prosperity for our future generations. If the DGR goes ahead, construction will start around 2033, just when the current round of Bruce Power refurbishments are winding down. At that point, the kids who are currently in Grade One and Two will be entering the workforce. Those in Grade 5 or 6 may be finishing their apprenticeships for skilled trades, or graduating from university. Will there be opportunity for them to have a home and a job here in Bruce County, to enjoy the wonderful quality of life that we enjoy?
We should consider this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity very seriously before throwing it away.