Come Together as Neighbours on the DGR

To the Editor:

There is certainly a wide range of opinions on the proposed South Bruce DGR.  Some are dead-set against it, some are definitely in favour, and some feel we just need time to learn more.  When faced with an important issue like this, it’s natural to divide into camps, and unfortunately, to start to see it as an “us versus them” struggle.  I have to admit, I’ve been tempted at times to see it that way, and sometimes, I may have acted or spoken that way.

But I think it’s more important than ever to remember that despite our different opinions, we are all neighbours, and we need to respect one another.  I also think it will be helpful to focus on the things that unite us.  We all want safe water to drink.  We all want to protect our environment, especially our lakes and rivers.  We all want a prosperous future for our children and grandchildren.  Those things should be the basis for respect and dialogue.  Some of us just differ on how these things should be achieved.

The DGR clearly presents an important economic opportunity for our future, and a chance to make an important contribution to Canada, by being part of the long-term solution for nuclear waste.  However, some of us – our neighbours – see it as a threat, and when a person feels his or her business, home, or way of life is threatened, he or she will dig in and fight.  I think most of us would do the same.

Many valid concerns have been raised and they require serious discussion.  Who will really benefit from the billions of dollars that will be spent in South Bruce over the 10-year period of construction and the 40-year period of operation?  Will South Bruce residents have a chance at good, high-paying jobs, or will they go to transient workers from elsewhere?  Will local construction companies be used, or will all these services be imported from elsewhere?  Where will the 700-odd people live?  Will they build work camps, take rental accommodations in Bruce and Huron, or will they buy or build houses and settle in Mildmay, Teeswater or Wingham?  Will the jobs be unionized? What will that do to the cost and availability of labour in our area?  Is it true that only 250 acres of farmland will be taken out of agricultural production, as the NWMO claims?  What about the noise and traffic from constructing what amounts to a deep mine? How much noise?  How much traffic?  What about the “nuclear stigma”?  Will our customers still want to buy our agricultural products?

All of these things are important, especially to those who live near the site, and all of them need thoughtful dialogue.  I’m confident that there’s not a single issue that South Bruce residents cannot overcome if we stand together and work together as a community, and we should decide as a community whether to go ahead and embrace the opportunity, or to decline, and invite the NWMO to look elsewhere.  But this can only happen if we all commit to treating each other as neighbours, with respect, tolerance and forgiveness.  We won’t always agree, and I for one am not going to stop saying what I know to be true, but we can all take ourselves a little less seriously, exercise some patience, and cut each other some slack.  So I’d like to encourage my fellow South Bruce residents and land-owners to reach out, try to see each others’ points of view, and talk to each other like neighbours, as we try to make a decision on the DGR.

Tony Zettel, Mildmay