Another sign that nuclear plant coming here?

Bruce Power becomes major (unsolicited) sponsor of Norfolk Fair

SIMCOE REFORMER: Monte Sonnenberg - Oct 9, 2008

Students from Fisherville and Selkirk mug for the camera yesterday at a banner for Bruce Power at the Norfolk Fair

Bruce Power has stepped forward as a surprise sponsor of the Norfolk County Fair.

The fall classic has focused in recent years on increasing corporate involvement. Bruce Power's contribution of $10,000, however, was unsolicited.

"That was quite a surprise," said Sharon Judd of Simcoe, president of the Norfolk Agricultural Society. "They called us. They said 'We'd like to be part of the fair. How do we do that?'"

Bruce Power is based in Bruce County. Its nuclear installation in Tiverton provides 20 per cent of the province's hydro.

Bruce Power has stepped up its charitable activity in Norfolk and Haldimand since the McGuinty government announced plans to close the coal-fired Nanticoke Generating Station in 2003.

The McGuinty government has also signalled that it wants Ontario to rely more heavily on nuclear reactors for its electrical needs. Despite claims to the contrary from the Ministry of Energy, many see the Nanticoke Industrial Park as a logical location for expanded nuclear capacity in Ontario. Norfolk council and Haldimand council have passed resolutions endorsing the construction of nuclear facilities in Nanticoke.

Over the past two years, Bruce Power has provided financial support to Norfolk General Hospital's annual fundraising golf tournament. The company has also sponsored Mayor Marie Trainer's annual charity golf tournament in Haldimand. Community Living Haldimand has also benefitted from Bruce Power's generosity.

According to the firm's 2007 Social Responsibility Report, Bruce Power donated $900,000 last year to events and programs related to health and safety, education and the environment in Ontario.

James Scongack, executive assistant to Bruce Power president and CEO Duncan Hawethorne, says the company has made a point of boosting rural Ontario. The Bruce installation, he said, is located in a rural community.

Scongack said Bruce Power has taken an interest in the Norfolk County Fair because it is the premier agricultural exhibition in Ontario. Bruce Power was also a major sponsor of last month's International Plowing Match in Teeswater and a major sponsor of the Port Elgin Pumpkinfest. Both are located in Bruce County.

"We were told (the Norfolk County Fair) was one of the largest outdoor events in southern Ontario," Scongack said. "So we thought it would be appropriate to sponsor it. We try to support events and causes where we see a need and where we have the means to do so."

Rumours have been circulating in recent weeks that Bruce Power is anxious to make a move in the local area. At a meeting last month of the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States and Canada in Hamilton, union members were told that plans to construct two nuclear generators in Nanticoke would soon be announced.

Haldimand Mayor Marie Trainer also heard the reports and contacted Bruce Power for further details. As he did last month, Scongack yesterday would neither confirm nor deny that Bruce Power has designs on the local area.

"Nothing has changed since our last discussion," Scongack said yesterday. "We haven't made any decisions about our future in Haldimand-Norfolk. But I wouldn't rule anything in or anything out at this stage."

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