The Saskatchewan government has committed to two more rounds of public hearing on the province’s energy future, after earlier consultations produced a resounding no from the public on the issue of nuclear development.
The report, compiled by civil servant Dan Perrins, was intended to gauge public opinion on the recommendations of the Uranium Development Partnership, a body appointed by the Saskatchewan Party to investigate financially viable options for uranium development. The UDP’s findings supported the construction of a research reactor and a nuclear waste storage site in Saskatchewan.
Perrins found that people instead wanted more information — especially about renewable energy.
“People wanted more detail about how sources of power like wind and solar worked and whether or not they could be used as part of the baseload of power for the province. They questioned why the government is not investing in a study on alternatives or renewables, as they had with uranium,” the report states.
Many involved in the consultations were concerned the process was too short and that not enough people were participating in the process.
Still committed to pursuing a nuclear reactor, Bill Boyd, provincial minister of energy and resources, called the reaction a “yellow light” for uranium development.
Near the end of the summer hearings, the Sask. Party submitted a proposal to the federal government asking for money to build a research reactor. The proposal asks Ottawa for most of the $500 to $700 million price tag, plus $45 to $70 million annually for operating expenses.
The federal government is expected to indicate whether it is is interested in the proposal this month, which may make another round of public hearings irrelevant if the Sask. Party remains committed to the project.
Anti-nuclear activists have not ignored the Saskatchewan party’s position. Echoing the Perrins report, over 400 protestors paraded from the University of Saskatchewan to downtown Saskatoon on Oct. 4 brandishing signs favouring renewable energy over nuclear power.
The event was organized by the Coalition for a Clean Green Saskatchewan, a local group trying to prevent uranium development in the province. Last month, they put on street theatre in front of the Hotel Bessborough in protest of the Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s closed-door hearings. The NWMO was trying to determine how receptive Saskatoon business leaders and politicians were to the idea of Saskatchewan becoming a storage site for nuclear waste.Â
The next hearings in Saskatoon are on Oct. 9, 13 and 14 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Travelodge Hotel. Hearings are also scheduled in Regina and La Ronge this month.
The final round of hearings will take place in January in Lloydminster, Prince Albert, Yorkton, Saskatoon, Estevan and Regina. The last chance for the people of Saskatoon to have their voices heard is on Jan. 20.
photo Danni Siemens