HURON-KINLOSS – Justin Wallbott of the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), accompanied by Tareq Al-Zabet and Michael Pahor, attended the April 20 meeting of Huron-Kinloss council to provide an overview of NWMO’s Property Value Protection (PVP) program.
One major concern with the proposed deep geological repository (DGR) for spent nuclear fuel is that if South Bruce is chosen as the host community, property values could plummet. Wallbott said so far, property values have shown no decrease. In fact, what’s been showing to date is the COVID-related appreciation of prices.
However, to provide property owners with peace of mind, the NWMO has engaged a consultant for valuing property and reimbursing owners for any loss due to the DGR.
First step in the process is completion of a baseline understanding of property transactions in South Bruce and Huron-Kinloss.
The PVP program would compensate adjacent landowners for losses in agricultural, commercial and residential property in the PVP area – with certain provisos: the property must have been sold to someone who isn’t related to the seller, and claims are limited to one per property. The amount of compensation would be based on the value of “real” property if the project did not exist.
The PVP consists of properties within a five-kilometre radius of the DGR. Most properties are in South Bruce but there is an area on the west side that’s within the boundaries of Huron-Kinloss.
Any claim would have to be filed within six months of the closing of the sale, and all documentation supporting the claim must be filed with the NWMO, including an appraisal of the property. The claim process is not designed to be lengthy – it’s estimated it will take 23 weeks from start to finish.
As an alternative, the landowner may ask the NWMO to buy their property directly instead of going to the open market.
Wallbott said if South Bruce is selected, the program would be in effect for about 25 years.
Huron-Kinloss will be returning to in-person meetings at the start of May – unless there is inclement weather or a delegation.
In those cases, the meeting would be held virtually. The present plan is to announce by noon the day of the meeting if it will be moved to virtual format.
At present, Huron-Kinloss does not have the technology to permit hybrid meetings, where some people attend virtually while others are in the council chamber – it’s either-or.
Some council members have expressed concern about returning to in-person meetings, due to the increase in cases of COVID.
“Should we be looking at virtual meetings (for a while longer)?” asked Deputy Mayor Don Murray.
Coun. Jim Hanna advised caution.
“Let’s use our heads, do this wisely.”
Council decided to stay with the present plan, at least for the time being.
Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times