To develop the site selection process, the NWMO engaged in a dialogue with interested Canadians. People participated through a variety of means, including multi-party dialogues, national surveys, e-dialogues, and public information sessions. Dialogue sessions were also designed and implemented by Aboriginal groups.

Through this dialogue, a broad cross-section of Canadians and Aboriginal peoples shared their thoughts on what an open, transparent, fair, and inclusive process for making this decision would include. This was captured and formalized in the design of the siting process.

Design: Multi-Party Dialogues

A series of dialogue sessions on the design of the site selection process were conducted in September and October 2008. Sessions were held in Saskatoon, SK, Ottawa and Toronto, ON, Montreal, QC, and Saint John, NB. Each of the provinces where the sessions were held have direct involvement in the nuclear fuel cycle.

These sessions were designed to:

  • Seek input on the critical elements of a fair, ethical and effective siting process
  • Provide for an exchange of views
  • Provide us with the opportunity to improve the site selection process before its finalization

Individuals with a wide range of perspectives were invited, including those from Aboriginal organizations, business associations, municipal groups, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), academia, the nuclear industry, and professional associations. They were invited on the basis of their prior involvement and potential interest in our work.

Design: Nation-Wide Survey

A nation-wide telephone survey was conducted among 2,631 Canadians between November 13 and November 30, 2008. The survey was designed to solicit input from a randomly selected sample of Canadians about the key principles that should guide the design of the site selection process. It also included questions that were asked in previous surveys commissioned by the NWMO and were intended to track awareness on key variables related to our work.

The survey focused on:

  • National and community issues of importance (tracking questions)
  • Importance of and support for nuclear power for generating electricity (tracking questions)
  • Familiarity with the nuclear waste management process (tracking questions)
  • Awareness of and support for the NWMO (tracking questions)
  • Weighing the risks and benefits of hosting a nuclear waste management facility
  • Importance of factors to be considered during the site selection process
  • Evaluating the role of actors in the site selection process
  • Views on the location and transportation of nuclear waste
  • Interest in learning more about the site selection process
  • Who should be involved in the process of locating a nuclear waste facility

Design: E-Dialogues

Two e-dialogues were convened and led by Dr. Ann Dale, Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Community Development, to solicit input to the design of the site selection process.

The first e-dialogue was held on December 2, 2008, designed particularly to target young people. This dialogue included 10 experts who had various expertise in community engagement, either as an academic or a practitioner, including two international experts.

The second e-dialogue was conducted on December 17, 2008, and included three experts: Dr. Nola-Kate Seymoar, President and Chief Executive Officer, International Centre for Sustainable Cities; Dr. William Leiss, Scientist, McLaughlin Centre for Population Health Risk Assessment, University of Ottawa; and Dr. Joanne Tippett, Lecturer, Discipline of Planning and Landscape, University of Manchester.

Review: Citizens' Panel Dialogues and Public Discussion Group Sessions

The Citizen Panel was designed to bring together a group of citizens, selected at random in each of the four provinces involved in the nuclear fuel cycle, to meet periodically to give us input on our early plans. Sessions were held in 2007 and 2008, covering four phases of discussion. Topics addressed were as follows:

  • Review of and comment on our first corporate brochure (Phase 1 - conducted Fall 2007)
  • Input to the development of our first implementation plan (Phase 2 - conducted early 2008), and subsequent review of portions of a draft of this document which were published on our website for comment (Phase 3 - conducted early Spring 2008)
  • Review of the framework of values and objectives suggested as the starting point for collaborative development of the siting process (Phase 4 - conducted late Spring 2008)

Meeting notes were prepared for each session. Copies of these notes, along with other Citizen Panel materials, are published here.

Review: Public Information Sessions

In 2009, we conducted regional information sessions in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Saskatchewan. Participants reviewed the proposed site selection process, asked questions, and made suggestions about how it might be improved.

Review: Multi-Party Dialogues

The purpose of the 2009 multi-party dialogues was to test and refine the proposed process for selecting a site. Sessions were held in Saskatoon, SK, Ottawa and Toronto, ON, Montreal, QC, and Saint John, NB. The sessions continued the discussions held in these cities in 2008 as part of the design of the site selection process.

Review: Nation-Wide Survey

A nation-wide telephone survey was conducted among 2,630 Canadians between October 20 and November 8, 2009. The survey was designed to test and refine key components of the Proposed Process for Selecting a Site document with a randomly selected sample of Canadians. The questionnaire also included questions that were asked in previous surveys commissioned by the NWMO and were intended to track awareness on key variables related to our work.

The survey focused on:
  • National and community issues of importance (tracking questions)
  • Importance of and support for nuclear power for generating electricity (tracking questions)
  • Familiarity with the nuclear waste management process (tracking questions)
  • Awareness of and support for the NWMO (tracking questions)
  • Importance of possible principles to guide decision-making
  • Importance of possible approaches to supporting communities that wish to consider hosting the project
  • Approach to addressing concerns of other communities that may be affected

Review: E-Dialogues

Royal Roads University led a series of e-dialogues on behalf of the NWMO. The last online real-time conversation was held on October 19, 2009, followed by a weeklong e-forum until October 24, 2009. Led and moderated by Dr. Ann Dale, Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Community Development, this e-dialogue was designed to bring as many diverse perspectives as possible around four key questions on the draft siting plan for used nuclear fuel.

The panel experts were Dr. Nola-Kate Seymoar, President of the International Institute for Sustainable Development; Jamie Doyle, Doctoral Student, Chemical and Environmental Toxicology, University of Ottawa; Dr. Robin Cox, Associate Professor, Disaster and Emergency Management, Royal Roads University; Dr. Art Hanson, Former President, International Institute for Sustainable Development; Lisa Hardess, manager of Building Sustainable Communities, Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources; Dr. Lenore Newman, Assistant Professor, School of Environment Sustainability, Royal Roads University; and Dr. Marilyn Hamilton, President of Integral City Meshworks and TDG Global Learning Connections.

Regional Aboriginal Dialogues

The purpose of the 2009 Regional Dialogues in Aboriginal engagement was to work with Aboriginal organizations in Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick to collaboratively design, develop, and co-ordinate a series of regional information and dialogue sessions to seek input on the proposed site selection process. The sessions, which brought together First Nation and Métis peoples in regional areas identified by Aboriginal organizations, reflected a broad range of perspectives, including leadership, Elders, women, youth, and community members. The comments and views shared in these dialogues were used to refine the site selection process, and ensure it is open, transparent, fair, and inclusive.

The dialogue format varied in each province. NWMO technical and engagement specialists participated in the sessions along with one or more members of Niigani and the Elders Forum. In addition, a number of Aboriginal groups conducted meetings and information sessions directly with Aboriginal communities in order to provide as wide a range of opportunities for participation and learning as possible.

Exploring Communication Effectiveness

A series of focus groups were conducted between 2008 and 2010 to test the effectiveness of a number of the NWMO's communications materials.

Document: Site Selection Process

The focus groups led by Navigator Ltd. in March 2009 solicited feedback on drafts of the Executive Summary and one chapter of a NWMO document outlining the organization’s site selection process. The focus groups were designed to gauge understanding of the document, determine if the document met participant expectations on depth and content, identify any barriers to comprehension, and identify formats and media appropriate for the material. 

Exhibit: Siting Process

In October 2010, Navigator conducted four focus group sessions with 51 Ontarians to solicit feedback on the NWMO's siting process exhibit.