Jacqueline Lawrence July 11, 2007

The District of Muskoka is opposed to any proposal that would result in the dumping of nuclear waste within its borders, now or anytime in the future.

That was the message the upper-tier municipality delivered to the federal government Monday night in response to a recent report highlighting Muskoka and northeastern Ontario as a suitable dumping ground for waste from Canada's nuclear reactors.

The report, prepared by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), was meant to address Canada's long-term disposal needs when it comes to nuclear waste. It recommended through its Adaptive Phased Management (APM) plan that waste could be buried deep within the Canadian Shield, possibly in Muskoka. While the phased process is said to take as many as 30 years to implement, and only with the assistance of willing and informed communities, the Tories reportedly accepted the plan's suggestions in June.

Since then, Parry Sound-Muskoka MP Tony Clement has gone on record encouraging the district to pass a resolution in opposition to the implementation of such a proposal within the community.

Clement attended Monday evening's meeting, where council heeded his call.

"It's not something that we believe is compatible with Muskoka, given our environmental focus and the fact that we are a tourist area," said district chair Gord Adams, commenting on the resolution.

Adams compared the hot-button issue to incineration. He explained that he believes council's resolution reflects the public's feelings on the matter.

"We could have a very long and bitter discussion on this, and in my humble opinion, this recommendation would be the result of the end of that discussion," he said.

Georgian Bay councillor Larry Braid lightheartedly concurred with Adams.

"We do have a dark-sky policy in Muskoka," Braid joked. "The last thing we need is little green people running around lighting up the sky."

Following the meeting, Clement told this newspaper he was aware of the NWMO's report prior to the publication of its contents by the local media.

He said, however, that he did not feel it was "an immediate hazard," given the three- decade-long implementation process, and the fact that Muskoka was only said to be a "suitable" place for the waste.

"Muskoka was deemed to be suitable, but it was not deemed to be recommended," Clement pointed out. "The only way to get from 'suitable' to 'recommended' was by being a willing host."

District council's passing of the resolution marks the end of the issue, he said.

Clement said he would now forward Muskoka's motion to the NWMO and Canada's minister of natural resources.

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