Southampton no longer preferred site for Nuclear Innovation Institute



By Barb McKay


The Ontario Nuclear Innovation Institute will not be attached to the Bruce County Museum and Archives in Southampton.


Bruce Power and the County of Bruce issued a joint announced on Friday that due to public debate over the location, the institute will be developed elsewhere. The institute, as revealed earlier this year as a partnership between the county and Bruce Power, will be an international centre of excellence for applied research with a focus on artificial intelligence and cyber security technology, medical and industrial isotopes, health and environmental excellence, Indigenous and economic development and nuclear sector operational excellence. There will also be a skilled trades and training secretariat with industry leaders to increase the skilled trades workforce in the region.


James Scongack, Bruce Power vice-president of corporate affairs and operational services, spoke to The Independent on Monday and said focus at the present time is not on finding a new location for the institute but rather what the institute will ultimately be.


“The whole debate about location has been a distraction,” Scongack said. “Fundamentally, we are in the key early stages.”


He said he understands why there is interest in where the institute will located, but this is a positive opportunity for the entire county.


“At the end of the day, this is something that will benefit the whole region,” he said.


At the present time, Bruce Power and the county are working collaboratively to attract individuals and companies that have the skills and experience to partner in the centre, as well as secure investments and government funding.


Scongack said an important element of the Nuclear Innovation Institute, and something that has been emphasized by Bruce Power CEO Mike Rencheck, will be to provide enhanced education for students in Bruce County and give them the same advantages as students in urban centres.


“We want to expose kids to science and technology,” Scongack said. “Unfortunately, that is something we are lacking in our rural schools.”


Bruce Power announced that later this week it will provide more information on how the institute will support local students.


“It’s critical we ensure our youth have access to the best educational and career opportunities, and the Institute will provide the connections that will allow our future leaders to pursue their dreams,” the company stated in a media release.


While Bruce Power and Bruce County continue to move forward with plans for the Nuclear Innovation Institute, temporary headquarters for the institute will be at 625 Goderich Street in Port Elgin. The location will also serve as a public information centre.