IGNACE, Ont. — Residents of Ignace will get a say on how the township should measure its willingness to accept the construction of an underground nuclear waste storage site 40 kilometres away.
The Nuclear Waste Management Organization has said it will only build a repository in the Canadian Shield between Ignace and Dryden if nearby communities agree.
Ignace and Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation are the two closest communities.
The Township of Ignace announced Monday that it is embarking on what it called "the willingness process."
Starting in June, residents will be consulted on how they feel public opinion should be weighed.
"Defining willingness is our next step, and from there, Ignace and our partners will make the choice based on what is best for us," Mayor Penny Lucas said.
With the help of consultants, she said residents will have many opportunities between now and 2023 to express how they want to proceed.
"There's a number of ways that we want to try to reach out to people. We kind of want to put together different aspects of how to make that happen," Lucas said.
"We've been in this process for a long time now. A lot of the community are comfortable speaking to us, so I don't think that's going to be a problem. It's just making sure that we reach out to everybody and give as many people as possible the chance to voice their opinion."
Asked whether she has seen indications of any consensus to this point, Lucas replied "I don't want to put words in somebody else's mouth, so what I would like to say is that people are anxious to put their voice on record."
She added that she is aware that some people are "absolutely dead set against" the project, while others have questioned why it's taking so long to get the storage facility started.
"So it's a broad range, and other people still just have questions. They wanna make sure that it's gonna be safe. They wanna make sure that we're looking after the environment, that we're looking after the people, all those things. So it's not gonna be an easy decision."
Lucas reiterated that it's important to make sure that everybody gets all the data they need to be able to make an informed decision, noting that "sometimes that's a bit of a struggle."
She said Wabigoon First Nation will make its own decision about the project.
The Nuclear Waste Management Organization wants to choose its preferred site in 2023.
The only other location under consideration is South Bruce in southern Ontario.