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Annual Clean Energy Frontier Summit focuses on opportunities and challenges ahead for Bruce, Grey and Huron region

Discussion to inform collective advocacy efforts for the Clean Energy Frontier region



How do people living in a region that’s driving the clean energy transition manage the social, political and environmental challenges that come with it?

 

That was the central question posed to municipal officials, local Indigenous leaders, representatives of the clean energy sector and others assembled at Cobble Beach on Friday for the annual Clean Energy Frontier Summit.

Moderated by Stellina Williams, Vice President, NII (far left), the workforce panel discussion featured (L-R) Theron Solomon, Councillor, Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation; Marketa Evans, President & CEO, Colleges Ontario; and Jeff Parnell, President, Power Workers Union.

Over a day of discussions, participants addressed many of these issues, from how to build big energy projects to workforce attraction and development across the region of Bruce, Grey and Huron—the Clean Energy Frontier. And while a variety of perspectives were heard, there was also a common belief that other levels of government have a responsibility to mitigate some of the local stressors that can arise with growth that benefits all Ontarians.

“We need to lay this groundwork for prosperity that will last into future generations—prosperity that’s not at the cost of the environment and not at the cost of each other,” said Bruce Power President & CEO Mike Rencheck during an overview of what is on the horizon for the region. “We can only do this if we work together.”
Robert Lavigne provides an insightful keynote address to kick off the 2024 Clean Energy Frontier Summit.

The day began with a macro-economic overview of the global economy from Robert Lavigne, Senior Managing Director of Economic Research at OMERS Pension Fund.


Lavigne noted trends showing some troubled waters on the horizon as Canada’s economy faces slower growth, with an aging population of fewer workers supporting more retirees. But Lavigne closed by pointing out that the Clean Energy Frontier region may see greater growth because of its clean energy assets and their importance to the province.


Other event highlights:

  • An overview of the growing medical isotopes and energy storage landscapes by James Scongack, Chair of the Canadian Nuclear Isotope Council and Justin Rangooni, Executive Director of Energy Storage Canada, respectively

  • Panel discussions about workforce development and community engagement

  • ‘Ask Anything’ session regarding the Bruce C project featuring Weina Chong, Lead, Bruce Power NextGen

 

On building workforce readiness and training to meet future demands of the region, Marketa Evans, President & CEO of Colleges Ontario, expressed her optimism for the ability of public colleges to step up, noting that “Ontario’s colleges are purpose-driven by local economic development.”


With respect to engagement with Indigenous communities on projects, Chief Gregory Nadjiwon of the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation stated:

“The days of rubber-stamping projects are in the past. We are part of community engagement from the get-go and will use our own experts to conduct evaluations and environmental assessments.”
The Summit concluded with a discussion on how the region can collectively and successfully advocate for itself in light of potential challenges on the horizon.

Throughout the day, attendees were asked to share their insights on topics explored in the panel discussions and presentations via active polling.


In the coming weeks and months, staff at the Nuclear Innovation Institute (NII) will collate the data and insights collected and use this information to advance its mandate of promoting the valuable contribution of the region in the drive toward net zero while also building on the region’s advantages and overcoming barriers to sustainable growth.


Learn more about the Clean Energy Frontier at: nii.ca/clean-energy-frontier.

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