We’re on a journey together

To the editor,

Willing to Listen was formed by local citizens committed to learning about NWMO’s proposed deep geological repository (DGR) in South Bruce. We believed that to do our due diligence we shouldn’t just say ‘no’; rather we should learn as much as possible about the project and any potential impacts – positive or negative – on our community. We also wanted the people of South Bruce to make an informed decision based on facts and not fear and speculation.

We’ve learned a lot about the proposed project so far. Years of research and fieldwork culminated in Confidence in Safety reports, which outline the basis for the NWMO’s confidence that a DGR can be constructed and operated safely at either the Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation-Ignace area and the Saugeen Ojibway Nation-South Bruce area.

There have been numerous studies presented which provide baseline data and outline potential changes that the DGR project could bring to South Bruce. One of the big takeaways from the studies is that our community will change – with or without the project.

At our Physician’s Perspective on Nuclear Waste event in September, we heard from Dr. Chris Keefer, emergency physician, educator, founder of Doctors for Nuclear Power and president of Canadians for Nuclear Energy and Dr. Douglas Boreham, division head of medical sciences at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine and a recognized expert on the effects of radiation. While these two specialists did not take sides on whether a DGR should be built, they explained why a DGR would not pose a risk to people or the environment.

A DGR could be built here. It would be safe.

That said, the project will have challenges. What multi-year, multi-billion-dollar project wouldn’t? But there will also be solutions. We can influence how any potential negative impacts are addressed. And let’s make sure the potential positive impacts are realized (and even increased!).

There was talk during the election campaign about divisiveness in our community. Many of us felt it. The results of the election indicate that the people of South Bruce are not interested in rushing a decision regarding the DGR. We hope that the election can be a turning point for South Bruce – that we face the challenges ahead together.

Our new South Bruce municipal council held its inaugural meeting recently – the beginning of their four-year term – and Mayor Mark Goetz spoke about the excitement of the group to promote unity and to focus on growing together, united as South Bruce. We at Willing to Listen respect and support the work of our municipal council. The South Bruce that we know and love is polite, positive and caring. We all want a vibrant and prosperous future for South Bruce. Is the DGR part of our future?

The MOU signed by South Bruce and NWMO this past June forms the basis for negotiating the draft hosting agreement. What are the most important priorities for our community? What expectations do you have? South Bruce is our home, and if we do end up being the preferred site for the DGR, Willing to Listen wants to ensure that South Bruce achieves the best possible deal for our community!

This is an important, forever decision for our community. We’re on a journey. Let’s work through the process together and take the time to ensure our decision is the right one for South Bruce.

Sheila Whytock

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