Publication of the draft community engagement report on the DGR project

SOUTH BRUCE – The answers come from a recent independent survey conducted in South Bruce to determine the term ‘will’.

The municipality hired an independent company to conduct the investigation, as part of the ongoing debate over whether the construction of a deep geological repository (DGR) by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is welcome to the region.

GDH Consulting Corporation surveyed taxpayers in the South Bruce jurisdiction and produced a report released on September 7.

Of the 229 residents surveyed, 136 confirmed the referendum as their preferred method of determining the will of the DGR.

The survey identified six themes, based on recurring ideas or comments or sharing similar feelings. Each of the themes identified by GHD is described below and is not presented in any order of importance.

Overwhelming preference for the public referendum

A public referendum emerged as having sparked the most discussion and was preferred by most participants. Participants said a referendum is fair, allows everyone in the municipality to vote, is anonymous and provides a clear “yes” or “no” answer.

According to the report, “some participants noted that a referendum is the only way to determine the will and a strong aversion to any other means.”

This view was not shared by all participants, however, according to the report.

“When participants were asked which processes they didn’t like, the referendum was the second most common response, after the council vote. Concerns about the public referendum included low voter turnout, voters may not be sufficiently informed, and the fact that a referendum has the potential to cause deeper divisions in the community.

Divergent views on the timing of a referendum

Participants raised a variety of comments regarding when a referendum should take place, including:

• a referendum within the framework of the municipal elections of 2022;

• organize a referendum as soon as possible;

• a referendum should be organized separately from municipal elections; and

• more time should be taken before a referendum or preferred community engagement activities (ie in person, online, polls, etc.) are held in combination with or before a referendum.

Diversity of views on other ways of determining willpower with common themes

The report identified several advantages and disadvantages of a referendum, but no individual process for determining willpower emerged as strongly preferred. Instead, several participants noted a preference for a combination of methods, including other plans with a referendum, as noted above.

Speaking of the reasons, several common themes emerged in all the processes:

• the importance that the decision be representative of the community and that the community has a voice;

• the importance of being informed;

• impartiality and protection against prejudice, manipulation; and

• concerns about mistrust and the importance of establishing a dialogue and not provoking further divisions.

Clear, accessible and impartial information from reliable sources

Several participants wanted a better understanding of the science and an open and impartial dialogue about the NWMO project, including:

• the results of drilling and technical and scientific studies;

• strong evidence that this project can be built safely;

• the risks and contingency plans associated with the project;

• access information in a simple, clear and easy to understand manner;

• information available in various formats (print, online, by mail, etc.) so that participants can access it in a way that suits them; and

• factual and impartial information from an independent source.

Wide representation

Several participants stressed the importance of broad representation:

• everyone in South Bruce should have the opportunity to have a say in will determination;

• the importance of youth engagement and representation;

• understand the Ojibway Saugeen Nation’s perspective on the project and its process for determining the will and views of those outside of South Bruce; and

• more involvement / participation of community members in the project.

Trust, mistrust, transparency and community divide

Several participants provided comments related to the mistrust and division of the community:

• the NWMO project was difficult for the community, which divided neighbors, friends and family on the issue;

• concerns that community members do not feel safe to give their opinions and opinions without being “on one side or the other”;

• lack of confidence in the NWMO, municipal staff, council and the Community Liaison Committee (CLC), and concerns about the bias of the CLC, council and municipal staff in favor of supporting the project; and

• Concerns that GHD is biased in favor of supporting the project.

Protect Our Waterways – No Nuclear Waste (POW-NNW) issued a press release after the announcement saying the organization is happy with the results.

“We are delighted to see that the will study reflects our long standing position,” said Michelle Stein, President of POW-NNW. “A binding referendum is the only legitimate way to determine the will. It guarantees everyone a voice and respects both their choice and their privacy.

Stein said all residents should be allowed to have a say in this momentous decision; an opportunity to declare with a clear “yes” or “no” vote is the only way to make the decision fair.

“Hosting the RDG will permanently change the character, reputation and economy of our community. Every resident and business will have to live with the risks and benefits promised for generations to come. Such an important decision cannot be made by a small group of people, no matter how well-meaning they are, ”said Stein.

Stein added: “We urge the mayor and council of South Bruce to act quickly and include a binding referendum in the upcoming municipal elections in October 2022. Our community must be given the opportunity to clearly answer ‘yes’ or’ no Whether we want to host the RDG of the NWMO.

Steven Travale, communications and public relations manager for the Municipality of South Bruce, said in an email to Midwestern Newspapers, “As the report is currently presented as a draft, it has not yet been formally presented to council in a report. agenda, so the board as a whole gave no comment or direction on it.

Travale added: “Once the comment period ends on September 24, the draft report and comments will be presented to the CLC for information at the October meeting, after which the final report will be presented to the board in early November in the framework of an agenda. . “

Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Wingham Advance Times

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