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Letter to the Editor: Willingness study experience

After having mixed feelings about being part of the willingness virtual workshop, I phoned GHD to register for the zoom meeting. Within the first minute of our conversation GHD mentioned that I was a Protect Our Waterways member. How do you know that, I asked? After some uneasy moments she admitted that GHD is checking our Facebook accounts. I can not imagine that staff from the municipality and staff that gets paid their salaries with NWMO money have not have mentioned certain names to GHD. Our accounts online are checked by GHD so they could prepare…..? Prepare differently for me then another resident?

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This willingness study is advertised and promoted as community driven, independent, a safe place and South Bruce pays for the consultation fee. This whole exercise is NWMO driven. Follow the money. South Bruce gets the money from the NWMO. Mayor Buckle told me that after I mentioned that the willingness study means nothing if the NWMO pays for it. There are also bi-weekly meetings between GHD willingness team and staff members of the municipality. Why?

Distroscale

Nowhere in the workbook is it mentioned about municipal or NWMO paid staff sitting in on these workshops. This is intimidation, this is not a safe place! If you fill out a workbook or the online version, it gets scanned at the municipality office and send to GHD. Why was it not decided that the workbooks where send directly to GHD? How are we sure that all workbooks arrive at GHD?

I got a call from GHD asking if I wanted to cancel my workshop appointment because only two people signed up. I was interested to take the workshop and in the end more people were interested to do the study too. Councillor Mark Ireland was also attending the workshop. It was questioned why he was there for conflict of interest and if he was there as a resident or as a councillor. Some of us did not feel comfortable or feel safe with him being there and he left the meeting. Halfway through the meeting, the GHD facilitator let Rushton in. This disrupted our conversation. No permission was asked by the facilitator if it was okay to let him in on the workshop. Poor leadership from GHD in how they handled this situation and they were questioned by those attending. This was to be a safe place to voice your opinions.

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In the Council meeting on July 12, 2021, the CAO defends municipal staff being in the workshops. This was not made public before the sessions started. The CAO and Rushton are listening in to the workshop to hear what the participants are discussing. This is intimidation and makes the residents uncomfortable and I am wondering if that is the goal.

In the end Council does not have to take this whole study in consideration for the process how to determine willingness. This study pretends we have a voice… who is fooling who? Having a referendum, yes or no to a DGR, is the only way people will feel safe to voice their opinion.

Rita Groen

South Bruce

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