South Bruce residents respond to nuclear waste property value protection plan

As farmland prices rise across Ontario, Michelle Stein says a large number of her neighbors near Teeswater are bracing for a potential drop in the value of their farms.

“I wouldn’t buy a farm here if I knew this was going to be here. I wouldn’t choose to put my money into this property,” says the South Bruce sheep farmer.

Stein lives right next door to 1,500 acres of land that could house Canada’s first permanent nuclear storage facility. The underground facility would hold 5.5 million used nuclear fuel bundles, the countries most radioactive waste, forever.

“It’s one big radioactive experiment that we don’t want to be a part of,” says Stein, who also heads a grassroots group fighting the project, called ‘Protect our Waterways-No Nuclear Waste.’

The project proponent, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), says it just launched a program to compensate landowners near the project, if indeed, property values ​​drop, as a result of the project.

“This is the something the community asked for, and we delivered a comprehensive program to build confidence that property values ​​are protected,” says the NWMO’s Manager of Real Estate Services, Justin Wallbott.

If South Bruce is selected as the host community, the NWMO’s Property Value Protection Program would cover properties within a five kilometer radius of the project, from 2023 until approximately 2048.

“If South Bruce is selected to host the deep geological repository, there will be a 25 year period where property values ​​are protected. It’s a comprehensive framework behind the program, so claims will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, so compensation would be provided if any adverse impacts are related to the project,” says Wallbott.

The NWMO says it doesn’t expect to use the program, because land values ​​have been rising in South Bruce, and that’s expected to continue even after the project is built.

Still, Stein and her neighbors want nothing to do with the project or the property value protection program.

“It just feels like this is another box that the NWMO is ticking off. They’re saying we put together a program. We are fulfilling the principles, and now we can move onto the next item,” she says.

Other South Bruce residents have expressed excitement over the prospect of the project and the hundreds of full-time, and thousands of construction jobs, it could create.

The NWMO will decide between South Bruce and Ignace, in the Kenora ara, as host communities by the end of 2023.

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