Peabody: Brockton representation on Finland trip resolved

·3 min read

BROCKTON – The upcoming trip to Finland for South Bruce municipal officials and a number of others, for the purpose of learning about the Scandinavian experience with the DGR (deep underground repository) for spent nuclear fuel, has been a major topic of conversation in Brockton since the last council meeting.

Mayor Chris Peabody, in his capacity as warden of Bruce County, was asked by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization to be part of the group going to Finland.

Peabody has stated that both Brockton and the county have a strong interest in what happens as the date draws closer for selection of a host community for Canada’s DGR – roads and other infrastructure, health care, housing and social services will all be impacted.

To ensure the full range of Brockton’s interests are protected, CAO Sonya Watson will also be going to Finland. The proposal that her expenses for the $8,000 trip be paid for from funds the NWMO has provided to Brockton met with strong objections during the last Brockton council meeting.

The municipality has set specific criteria on what those funds can be used for, and both councillors Mitch Clark and Carl Kuhnke stated the trip did not meet the criteria.

In an interview prior to the April 25 council meeting, Peabody said the matter has been resolved.

“I explained to NWMO about the criteria Brockton had for use of the training grant; they’ll fund Sonya’s trip directly,” he said, adding the money will not come from Brockton taxpayers.

Deputy Mayor James Lang had expressed interest in going on the trip, on the grounds that he has been a strong and vocal advocate for the DGR, and that Peabody would be representing the county’s interests. However, Peabody said that after the NWMO went over its list of attendees that include representatives from SON (Saugeen Ojibway Nation), Protect Our Waterways, Willing to Listen and Huron-Kinloss, and they determined there wasn’t room for another person.

The Finland trip wasn’t the only item of discussion at the April 25 council meeting.

Peabody expressed strong concern about the information session set for May 11, 6:30 p.m., at the community centre, for Walkerton and area businesses to learn more about the county’s Durham Street bridge replacement project.

“We need a big turnout,” said Peabody. “When there isn’t a large turnout, it means bureaucrats have carte blanche.”

In this case, he explained the first public meeting for the bridge replacement project wasn’t well attended. Now, the county is proposing a plan as the “preferred option” that involves no temporary bridge for pedestrians or vehicles. A bus will be provided to get pedestrians around town, Peabody said.

He noted there are at least 1,400 people who’ll “be cut off for two years.” That includes the retirees in the apartment buildings just across the bridge. People from those buildings often walk over to Tim Hortons and other locations, the mayor said. For that reason, he’d like to see at least a temporary pedestrian bridge.

He explained the environmental assessment process involves selecting a “preferred option” from a list of possibilities that includes numbers and prices.

“County council makes the decision,” Peabody said. “In this case, the preferred option seems to have been advanced too quickly.”

What it amounts to, is that he’ll be knocking on doors downtown to make sure there are at least 200 to 300 people at the meeting May 11.

In the county file, Peabody expressed concern about the province’s Bill 97; apparently municipal boundaries may expand, but it’s only open to market (value housing).

He’s also concerned about the possibility that three residential lots could be severed from prime farmland.

“We’re (the county) definitely going to comment on that,” he said.

Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times