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Council Chambers were filled to overflowing at Saugeen Shores Town Council meeting on Monday, June 25, to listen to three deputations that all related to the issue of the proposed Deep Geologic Repository (DGR).
Pat Dobec (speaking in place of Cheryl Grace), Pat Gibbons and John Mann, from the group 'Friends of Save our Saugeen Shores (SOS)', each put forward various aspects of concern to Council.
Dobec presented the [Grace] prepared deputation that among many things said that, "...since August 2011, Saugeen Shores has been in a relationship with the NWMO (Nuclear Waste Management Organization) ...". In addition, the deputation intimated that "... Saugeen Shores has been receiving money from Ontario Power Generation (OPG) as a result of a hosting agreement signed in October, 2004 by the Municipality of Kincardine and OPG."
The deputation also set out several questions that the SOS want answered. Among them:
Deputy Mayor, Luke Charbonneau said that he felt it was "... unnecessary to go down the path of conspiracy theories. We realize many people oppose Council's decision to go to Step 2 and that is their right but it is not necessary to try to find a smoking gun to try to de-legitimize Council's decision."
Charbonneau added that " ... each member of Council took all the information and submissions, looked at them and attempted to make the best decision in the best interests of the community. There was, or is, no great conspiracy or threats from OPG or NWMO. Actually, the only threats I have received are from those who are opposed to this ... the decision was legitimate and democratic and I hope we can proceed in that manner."
Councilor Diane Huber said that she felt it could be confusing because there are two DGR issues and they seem to be getting mixed up .... Low & Intermediate Waste and High Level Waste. "I am way more informed than I was a year ago of what is being done. I was a kid who grew up here and saw the development [of the nuclear plant] but had never been there before so I went to see what it was about."
"Low and intermediate waste can be something as simple as a piece of clothing or a paper towel," added Huber. "The thing is ... it's already out there. I was surprised at the amount that is there. I now feel more informed. The stuff is here and when we get more information on the geology, we can then look at the time line. We, as a community and as a society, have to think ... the stuff is here. I would however, ask when Council will receive a report on the time lines the opportunity for more discussion."
"Preliminary screening will be completed and presented to council in September," said CAO Larry Allison, "and then more open houses will be held."
"We may even be eliminated after the initial screening as a host site," said Mayor Mike Smith. "There are options available even if we decide to proceed. In my mind, we need to go past that first step in order to gain information.
"Well, I can say there was, and is, no conspiracy," added Councilor Taun Frosst, "whether or not you agree with how we [council] voted. We, too, would like to have televised meetings and are working toward it. This entire process of open houses has never been done before by NWMO and there will be more in the future."
Dobec added that, "... there is a need for full disclosure regarding the Kincardine move toward the low and intermediate waste DGR."
Mayor Mike Smith pointed out that Saugeen Shores had no input in the negotiations regarding the low level DGR, other than being an adjacent community, and that Kincardine as the host community made the decision.
"You talk about transparency," said Smith, "but I will say that this Council only acts and can only commit through the By-law process. I checked my calendar and I met with three Ministers and the SRA but, Council has to be free to seek information from people without threats or the idea that it is not doing something. Transparency is trying to get the most input from people. All adjacent municipalities met monthly in a forum, where Kincardine kept the minutes. I remember when we lost all kinds of people in the past and OPG bought all kinds of houses to try and keep the community going. We [council] have tried to act properly. Our vote was recorded, so how do you get any more transparent than that.?"
Deputy Mayor Luke Charbonneau
In the next deputation by Pat Gibbons, he said he was very concerned that NWMO acting as an agent for OPG was erroneous in determining the community support for the low & intermediate waste DGR.
Gibbons said that, in his opinion, when NWMO was seeking the support of Kincardine residents, the question posed was poorly worded and that there had been a " ... manipulation of facts".
John Mann, giving his third deputation, said that he felt he had been "... unable to speak freely to council at its June 11 meeting" when Council voted to provide a letter to the Joint Review Panel in support of Kincardine moving forward as a host community with the low and intermediate level DGR.
"I think you [council] dropped the ball on democracy," said Mann. "I am asking you to have as many town meetings as it takes and to take the ball away from NWMO. They should not be running this ... town meetings should be video-taped."
Mann referred to a November 4, 2011 meeting at Bruce Power, that a few Saugeen Shores Councilors attended. "I was not aware of that meeting,|" he said,. "and the troubling part is ... why didn't the whole Council go and why wasn't the meeting held here?"
Mayor Mike Smith clarified the November meeting saying that only four councilors attended and that he objected to questioning the credibility of people on Council. "When it comes to the Joint Review Panel," said Smith, "there are two distinct projects [low & intermediate waste and high level waste] and anyone from the public can comment."
The chambers, filled with the Friends of Save our Saugeen Shores (SOS), erupted into applause throughout the three deputations.
For more information and the text of the deputations go to the Town Web site
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Thursday, June 28, 2012