APM will be implemented in an informed and willing host community. Understanding local perspectives is critical as we design and refine plans and processes. Early activities in this area have focused on seeking advice through ongoing meetings with communities hosting nuclear waste facilities, as well as municipal associations in the nuclear fuel cycle provinces. The Canadian Association of Nuclear Host Communities (CANHC) and Durham Nuclear Health Committee (DNHC) have provided the NWMO with important insight at each stage of the process, and we have applied their advice in working to broaden our municipal outreach in the nuclear provinces and nationally.
The NWMO has engaged national and provincial municipal associations, including the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM); the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM); the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA); the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) and its affiliates: the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM), the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association (NOMA), Ontario Small Urban Municipalities (OSUM) and Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA); the Cities of New Brunswick Association (CNBA); and the Union of Municipalities of New Brunswick (UMNB).
We have participated in the annual conferences and trade shows of municipal associations in each of the four nuclear provinces. We accepted invitations from FONOM to participate in a Northern Leaders Summit held in Timmins, Ontario, and from many associations (AMO, SARM, FONOM, NOMA, UMNB, etc.) to attend their annual conferences and exhibitions. Hundreds of elected representatives and municipal officials at these events expressed interest in being kept apprised of NWMO activities. The interest expressed by these associations has encouraged the NWMO to continue expanding its outreach efforts to other similar organizations.
In addition to building relationships, we are learning about municipal structures and different and unique provincial processes for policy making, administration, planning, management of Crown land and political oversight. Our discussions with municipal associations have identified many areas of mutual research interests.
A meeting in late 2008 with the FCM and members of municipal associations from Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick led to the formation of the NWMO’s Municipal Forum. The Forum brings together municipal experts to provide information about best practices for communicating with local governments and associations, and guidance on a research agenda to explore topics that may be of interest to communities that choose to participate in the site selection process. The Forum has met nine times. Members have helped the NWMO better understand municipal processes and the needs of municipalities with respect to information and communication material that may assist local governments considering locating a large, national infrastructure project in their communities. Members also facilitate an effective link to the municipal associations and their membership, which includes hundreds of municipal governments.
As interested communities come forward to learn more about APM, the NWMO has begun to engage community leaders directly, including representatives of municipal councils, and members of local economic development offices, chambers of commerce, business leaders and other interested local citizens. In order to support the involvement of communities, the NWMO created a ‘Learn More’ program to begin to make available information and funding to assist communities, organizations and individuals to learn more about Canada’s plan, APM, and to begin to think through their interest in the project.