Webinar highlights South Bruce’s ongoing participation in the site selection process

Original post via Sudbury Star.

On Wednesday, October 21, South Bruce hosted an hour-long virtual webinar which focused on providing an overview and update of the Municipality’s ongoing involvement in the Nuclear Waste Management (NWMO) Adaptive Phased Management (APM) site selection process.

Approximately 50 members of the public tuned in to the webinar via Zoom or over telephone.

The three panellists that were featured on the webinar were Mayor of South Bruce Robert Buckle, Community Liaison Committee (CLC) Chair Jim Gowland, and Municipal Legal Advisor Patrick Duffy.

Each of the panellists took several minutes to highlight their respective roles, responsibilities and involvement in the ongoing process.

Mayor Buckle spoke first of the nearly eight-year path the Municipality has been on with the site selection process for the project.

He referenced back to early 2012, when the then Council first raised their hand to express interest in exploring the process with the NWMO. Buckle was a councillor at the time, and noted that there was an interest in seeing what economic development opportunities could occur in relation to hosting the Deep Geological Repository (DGR), which the NWMO are responsible for implementing as part of the Adaptive Phased Management to manage Canada’s used nuclear fuel.

Buckle also shared an update on more recent activity relating to the project. He highlighted the Project Visioning Report and Draft List of Principles which were brought to Council this summer. Buckle added that moving forward there are a host of studies – economic, environmental, agricultural and others – which will take place, to allow for a better understanding of the potential impacts of hosting the Project.

Following the Mayor’s remarks, Chair Gowland took the floor. He explained his involvement with the CLC, dating back to its formation in 2013 when he was first named Chair.

Gowland took the opportunity to go over the CLC’s mandate and specific role and obligations as a Committee of Council. He stressed that the CLC exists not to promote Canada’s plan for the management of used nuclear fuel, but rather to provide as much information as possible to the South Bruce community about it.

Gowland also provided a general update, noting that that much like Council, the CLC has adapted to virtual meetings for the time being and while doing so continue to welcome educational presentations monthly. Echoing Mayor Buckle, he encouraged community members to tune into the monthly meetings and invited all to continue listening, gathering information, and asking questions pertaining to the project.

The community was then introduced to legal advisor Patrick Duffy, who advises the Municipality on matters pertaining to the project. Duffy, a partner with Stikeman Elliott LLP, spoke of his area of expertise and practice, as well as the role he plays as the Municipality’s legal counsel for this project.

After delivering remarks, the panelists responded to questions which had been submitted by South Bruce residents in the week prior.

55 questions were received and shown on a slideshow while panelists took their turns providing answers and giving information. Questions were wide ranging – from matters such as defining willingness, next steps on the community input on the draft list of principles, CLC educational speakers, legal matters, and many other topics.

A submitted question asked about how communications surrounding the project would reach all residents, particularly recognizing that many do not rely on technology.

CLC Chair Gowland responded, noting that communicating in both print and digital formats is important and that further steps have been taken to make virtual events accessible to those without Internet. He explained that telephone call-in information for these events are now being included in flyers and in the weekly full-page “South Bruce Municipal Update” advertisement.

“Communicating with and engaging with South Bruce residents is very important for the CLC, and for the Municipality,” said Gowland.

One community member asked if answers provided during the webinar had any input from the NWMO.

Mayor Buckle confirmed that all topics discussed and questions answered during the webinar had no external input from the NWMO. “This was an independent, municipal focused event,” said Buckle.

However, several questions that were considered technical or beyond the scope of the webinar’s focus will be forwarded to the NWMO to be addressed.

All of the submitted questions seen in the slideshow, as well as answers in written format will be published on the “Community Questions and Answers” page of the CLC website. As well, this will include the responses from the NWMO upon receipt.

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