Bruce Innovation Idea Gets Response

(Blackburn News file photo)

There appears to be public support for a plan to build the Ontario Nuclear Innovation Institute in Southampton.

Bruce Power and the County of Bruce released findings of the first round of public feedback regarding the joint venture, proposed to be a research and training centre of excellence for the nuclear industry on the Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre property.

Bruce Power’s Vice President of Nuclear Oversight and Regulatory Affairs Frank Saunders is the project lead and says they are happy with the initial feedback, which indicates 82% of respondents are either neutral or supportive of the proposal.

He says getting out to the public early helps guide the project based on public priorities and clarify misinformation.

“It’s very early in the process, we don’t even have a sketch yet, let alone a drawing, so getting the feedback early makes it relatively simple to for us to incorporate people’s thoughts and ideas,” says Saunders. “We think it’s a good spot for the institute, we think the environment at Fairy Lake, that kind of ambiance is what we’re looking for.”

Matt Meade is a research analyst with the County of Bruce and he says the feedback indicates people are concerned about the institute fitting in with the natural environment around the museum property, as well as parking and overall safety for pedestrians and students attending nearby G.C. Huston Public School.

Saunders says they want to fit in and won’t do anything jeopardize safety or the environment.

“Obviously [Bruce Power’s] big priority as a company is safety, so we wouldn’t go out in the community and do something that is different than that,” says Saunders. “In fact, my suggestion would be we might even make it better by the time we’re done, we’re certainly going to try.”

Meade says people also indicated concern about the future of the manse property on the corner of High St. and Victoria St. that was recently purchased by the county for a proposed museum expansion.

He says nothing has been decided, but they will likely have to remove the building to construct the institute but will work to incorporate its features and materials into the construction.

“The house that exists on the corner of the property will likely need to be removed, however, our aim is to try to preserve as much heritage as possible by incorporating different features from the house into any new build,” says Meade. “So, the facade, pocket doors, windows, brickwork, that kind of thing.”

Meade says the project team is planning to present their findings to Saugeen Shores council later this month and have another public engagement session tentatively planned for September.

He says the plan is to complete the Ontario Nuclear Innovation Institute proposal in 2019 in order to be ready to begin construction in 2020.