Ignace council votes in favour of potential nuclear waste repository | CBC News

The northwestern Ontario town of Ignace is one step closer to hosting a $26-billion deep geological repository (DGR) for nuclear waste.

At a special meeting held Wednedsay, Ignace council voted in favour of a recommendation by the town’s willingness committee to continue in the Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s (NWMO) site selection process.

The vote does not guarantee the repository will be located in the Wabigoon Lake Obijway Nation-Ignace area, however.

The final decision rests with the NWMO, which is also considering South Bruce in southern Ontario for the site. An announcement is expected later this year.

“We are proudly the first community in Canada to be indicating our support and our willingness to continue in the selection process by the NWMO in the potential siting of the DGR project in this area,” Ignace Mayor Kim Baigrie said in a media release.

“The residents of the Township of Ignace have spoken loud and clear and we fully respect their direction as a council, and we clearly have now indicated our support through an official resolution to the NWMO based on the recommendations from our Willingness Ad Hoc Committee members.”

“We certainly understand that the endorsement of these recommendations does not mean that we are guaranteed and are going to host a DGR, but it does allow Ignace to continue to move another step closer, now as a willing host community in the selection process by NWMO. What it also means is that we now have an accurate, clear, concise, and
signed resolution to the NWMO on the community’s willingness to move forward in the process.”

At Wednesday’s meeting, willingness committee co-chair Roger Dufault said a consulting firm was hired to conduct a vote by Ignace residents.

Of approximately 1,035 eligible voters, 660 registered to participate in the vote.

Of those, 640 actually cast a ballot, Dufault said, with 495 voting yes, indicating they were willing to continue with the process.

“The resident Willingness Ad-Hoc Committee recommends the following to the Township of Ignace council,” Dufault said. “One, to make public and accessible in its entirety the Ignace Willingness Study Final Report.”

“To continue to advocate for socioeconomic growth and carefully monitor and enhance and strengthen this aspect of the host agreement with NWMO, and actively engage the residents of Ignace in fostering ownership.”

“And last and most importantly, to pass a resolution to continue to participate in the process and proceed as a potential host community.”

The town of Ignace noted in its release that Wabigoon Lake Obijway Nation (WLON) will hold its own willingness process, and Ignace respects that WLON’s support will also be required if the repository is to be built in the area.

Whichever municipality ends up being chosen, the site won’t be operational for some time; construction is expected to start in 2033, and the site would be up and running by the early 2040s.

The proposed northwestern Ontario nuclear waste repository has received pushback from regional organizations and Indigenous communities.

In a media release issued Wednesday afternoon, We the Nuclear Free North stated that the decision should be a regional one.

“The NWMO has deemed Ignace to be the ‘host community,’ despite Ignace’s distance from the site, lack of jurisdiction, and the presence of other communities closer to the site and downstream,” the media release stated.

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