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Nuclear waste deciding issue in South Bruce council race

The election signs are up in the Municipality of South Bruce, but the area has already been covered with signs for several months now, as the community decides whether they want to be the permanent home to Canada’s most radioactive nuclear waste.

“It’s totally an experiment. It’s never been done in the world before,” says Rita Groen, South Bruce mayoral candidate.

Groen is running to become South Bruce’s mayor because she doesn’t want the project to come to her community — a project that could see over 5.5 million used nuclear fuel bundles buried under 1,500 acres of farmers fields north of Teeswater, Ont.

“For hundreds of thousands of years, it’s not leaking? No, you disturb the rock, and cracks form, and water comes in. So, there’s no guarantees, which is why I’m strongly opposed to the DGR [deep geological repository] for high level nuclear waste in South Bruce,” says the first-time candidate.

Rita Groen, Municipality of South Bruce mayoral candidate, as seen in Teeswater, Ont. on Oct. 7, 2022. (Scott Miller/CTV News London)

Incumbent South Bruce Mayor Robert Buckle is in support of a community referendum on the project, if he is re-elected.

However, council decided against adding the nuclear waste vote to this election’s ballot, but he acknowledges that is exactly what this vote for mayor and council is about for many voters.

“When we have the referendum, I hope enough people show up to vote, because if they don’t, then council will have to decide on whether it will come here or not,” says the two-term mayor.

Buckle believes his eight years as mayor make him the right choice to see this nuclear waste process through to a decision.

“Since I have all the information, I figure I have to run for another term,” he says.

Coun. Mark Goetz is running for mayor as well. The two-term councillor is in favour of a community referendum, and continuing to move the proposed project forward.

Robert Buckle, Municipality of South Bruce mayoral candidate, as seen on Oct. 8, 2022 in Teeswater, Ont. (Scott Miller/CTV News London)

“If this project is proven to be safe, the economic spinoff isn’t just about the $24 billion project, it’s the other industries and jobs it will create, as well,” says Goetz.

He continues, “The residents are smart enough to make their own minds up. There shouldn’t be any one group of council deciding for the residents. They can do that themselves.”

Along with Groen, five other anti-DGR candidates are on the South Bruce council ballot, along with several incumbent councillors.

Whatever the composition of South Bruce council after October’s election, they will have a bit more time to deal with the looming nuclear waste decision. The Nuclear Waste Management Organization has decided to move their site selection decision between Ignace and South Bruce to 2024, from the previously stated 2023. Top Stories

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