The NWMO and South Bruce initiate community studies to explore potential for partnership

Community studies will start in March 2021, first community studies expected to be complete by end of 2021 and other community studies will be completed in 2022. All of the community studies will be shared publicly. Plan to provide study updates at CLC meeting

The NWMO and the Municipality of South Bruce will initiate a number of studies in 2021 focused on employment and workforce, housing, infrastructure improvements, economics, health and agricultural sector effects, property values, and others.

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) and the Municipality of South Bruce continue to collaborate to explore the potential for partnership as the organization takes a more site-focused approach in 2021.

At the February virtual meeting of the South Bruce Community Liaison Committee (CLC), attendees learned about the comprehensive study plan that will begin this year for defining partnership. This work will build on studies completed in 2012 to establish baseline conditions in a number of areas, including employment and workforce, housing, infrastructure improvements, economics, health and agricultural sector effects, property values, and others.

The overview was given by Dave Rushton, Project Manager at the Municipality of South Bruce and Allan Webster, Director of Regulatory Affairs and Environmental Assessment at the NWMO. They are responsible for coordinating approximately 60 studies and inputs in the South Bruce area and surrounding region over the course of the next few years.

“The leadership and community members in South Bruce have done a tremendous amount of work articulating their priorities for the project. The studies will provide an opportunity for people to shape how the project could be implemented if it were to proceed in this area,” said Webster. “Over the next few years, the NWMO will be focused on ensuring the community has the information they need to make an informed decision about whether or not to host the project.”

These studies will explore the expectations, aspirations, questions and concerns of South Bruce residents outlined in the project visioning workshop report and the Guiding Principles adopted by South Bruce Council in October 2020. They will also assess the potential impacts of the project in the community and broader region.

“The studies will assist the NWMO in developing a deeper understanding of the community and provide the information we need to work with the municipality so we can identify programs and commitments that will ensure the project will only be implemented in a manner that fosters the well-being in the area,” added Webster.

The studies will either be led by the municipality, the NWMO or in some cases both organizations.

Independent Peer Review

Recognizing the importance of building trust and confidence in the community, the Municipality of South Bruce will have the studies peer reviewed by independent experts.

As safety is the NWMO’s top priority, the NWMO will lead several studies to confirm the suitability of the geology and other environmental factors around South Bruce as a site for the repository.  

“The municipality recently concluded an independent process to acquire consultants to either conduct, or peer-review studies,” said Rushton. “The NWMO led studies will be peer reviewed by a number of consulting firms retained by the municipality.”

South Bruce has retained GHD, Redbrick Communications, MDB Insights, Tract, and Burnside and others to provide a variety of expertise in various study areas.

These study results will be shared broadly with the community and provide important information as people consider whether the project is a good fit for the community. Those interested in learning more, or providing input into the studies, are encouraged to contact the Municipality or NWMO Learn More Centre in Teeswater.

South Bruce, along with Ignace, Ontario is one of two remaining communities in the NWMO’s site selection process. The organization plans to select a site in 2023. Canada’s plan will only proceed in an area with informed and willing hosts working together with the local community, municipalities and First Nations and Métis people to implement it.

Further detailed studies:

Employment and workforce

Describing how many workers and what skills will be required at key points in the project.

Housing

Whether sufficient short-term or long-term housing will be available, and what increased demand may mean for housing prices.

Infrastructure improvements

Examining potential effects of having additional people and traffic, including required improvements to roads and other infrastructure.

Economic

Identifying local and regional economic development opportunities for existing businesses.

Environmental

Ensuring the protection of the Teeswater River and local groundwater, and that development of the site will not harm sensitive ecosystems or endangered species.

Health

Examining the regional health system to prepare for the new families the project will bring to the area.

Well-being

Examining the effects on education, and other social program in the region to the meet needs of families.