Déjà vu: Vandals strike Teeswater

·3 min read

TEESWATER – The small community of Teeswater seems an unlikely place for vandalism. A farming community that should be getting ready for planting doesn't suit the profile of a place with a chainsaw-wielding vandal creeping around in the night to destroy private property, but that is what has happened.

And it isn’t the first time.

For the second time, a disgruntled person(s) has taken what is alleged to be a chainsaw to cut in half several hand-made signs that dot the countryside in South Bruce and surrounding areas. Signs that show passersby that the occupant is opposed to a plan by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) to build a deep geological repository (DGR) in the pristine farmland outside of Teeswater.

Or in Ignace, Ont.

This time though, private property owners told Protect Our Waterways-No Nuclear Waste (POW-NNW) that their telephone lines had been cut as well.

“We will not be intimidated by those that seek to silence us through acts of vandalism and violence,” Michelle Stein, president of POW-NNW, said in a press release.

“This only serves to strengthen our resolve to resist NWMO’s proposed nuclear waste dump.”

Stein went on to say, “The NWMO consistently refers to our community organization by the name ‘unwilling to listen group.’ This disrespectful label opens the door for pro-nuclear dump proponents to take whatever steps they want to lash out against any member of the South Bruce community who opposes their project. By not apologizing for these derogatory statements, the NWMO bears as much responsibility for these acts of violence as the people that did them."

Stein is referring to a letter to the editor by Ben Belfadhel, the now retired vice-president site selection for the NWMO, in which he said, “We consider questions and challenges to be important to the integrity of our work. However, the description presented by the ‘Not Willing to Listen’ group on the potential impact to Lake Huron is concerning as it is simply inaccurate and misleading.”

In response to the “labelling” that Stein referred to in her statement, the NWMO provided the following statement:

“The NWMO encourages public discourse about the project, including from grassroots organizations. This project has always been and continues to be shaped by many views. We welcome all views, questions, and concerns. It is important for us to understand what they are so we can address them.

“Our goal is to make sure we provide those living in and near siting communities with enough information to help them evaluate whether the project is a good fit for their community.

“Canada’s plan will only proceed in an area with informed and willing hosts, where the interested municipality, First Nation and Métis communities, and others in the area are working together to implement it.

“Willingness will be defined by the communities involved in the site selection process, not the NWMO. We are working in collaboration with those who live in and near the communities to understand what this looks like in the coming years.”

Midwestern Newspapers reached out to South Bruce council for their response to the vandalism, and they provided the following statement:

“The Municipality of South Bruce condemns all acts of vandalism. We strongly encourage all community members to conduct themselves with respect and courtesy. South Bruce is a welcoming, neighbourly community and we regret to see any act of vandalism taking place against others. Anyone with information about any act of vandalism or damage should contact local law enforcement.”

Salima Virani, regional communications manager for the NWMO, provided the following statement regarding the vandalism.

“The NWMO welcomes public discourse about Canada’s plan and that includes hearing the perspectives of Protect Our Waterways and others. We are saddened to hear that some are resorting to violence in the South Bruce area and we do not condone violence or vandalism. We encourage anyone who sees violence to report it to local police.”

Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times