South Bruce, Ont. citizens push for referendum to decide location of nuclear waste
Michelle Stein is putting up signs around her community she hopes will lead to referendum on whether South Bruce should permanently house Canada’s most radioactive nuclear waste.
“That’s the fair way to do it. People that see benefits from the project can vote yes, those of us that feel the risks are too great we get to vote no,” says the chair of Protect our Waterways, a citizens' group opposing plans to bury high-level nuclear waste in the Municipality of South Bruce.
Stein believes a binding referendum during next October’s municipal election would be the best way for the 5,600 citizens of the Municipality of South Bruce to determine their willingness to host Canada’s first permanent nuclear waste facility, under 1,500 acres of farmers fields north of Teeswater.
“I personally am in support of a referendum,” says South Bruce Mayor Robert Buckle.
Buckle believes voting on the $23-billion project to house 5.5-million used nuclear fuel bundles in an underground facility in their community is too big to be added to the municipal election ballot next year, but is in support of the community making the decision.
“If it comes here, we will wind up being the nuclear hub of Canada,” he says.
A third-party Willingness Study conducted this summer showed that the majority of roughly 250 South Bruce respondents (less than four per cent of the community’s population), are in favour of a referendum, but some citizens pushing for the project aren’t convinced.
“I really feel like determining whether or not we’re willing any sooner than 2023 is a real disservice to the community. It’s a disservice to the country, because this waste is real, and it needs a real responsible solution,” says Sheila Whytock, leader of the Willing to Listen citizens' group.
The Nuclear Waste Management Organization say they’ll decide whether Ignace, Ont. or South Bruce will house Canada’s first permanent nuclear waste facility in 2023.
How communities decide their willingness to do so, is up to each community. South Bruce’s Willingness Study final report will be before council in November.
Protect our Waterways will be going door to door in South Bruce this month and next, to try and get residents to sign a petition urging South Bruce council to commit to a binding referendum on the nuclear waste topic in time for the 2022 municipal election.
“This is a decision that will forever change our community, and every single person deserves a voice, and deserves to have their vote counted,” says Stein.