Blair Skinner has a B.Sc. from the University of Waterloo and an M.Sc. from the University of Manitoba, both in physics. During his M.Sc. program, he did his research at AECL’s Whiteshell Nuclear Research Establishment, now known as the Whiteshell Laboratories. This was followed by a rewarding 14-year career as a Research Scientist at Whiteshell doing both theoretical and experimental work in Materials Science. Post AECL, he studied to become a Certified General Accountant. This led to a career at the Tantalum Mining Corporation of Canada Limited near Pinawa where he started as a part-time accountant and eventually was promoted to General Manager until his retirement in 2013. In parallel to this second career and seeing that Pinawa was going to be facing a significant change due to the closure of the Whiteshell Laboratories, he decided to get involved in Municipal politics. He was first elected to Council in 1998 and was re-elected in 2002. In 2006, he was elected Mayor by acclamation and has since been re-elected to Mayor three times more. Over 22 years on Council, he has been leading the way to develop a new economy for Pinawa and the region centred around the Whiteshell Laboratories site.
The last 5 years have been dedicated to developing a nuclear future for the Whiteshell Laboratories site. The site is the best site in Canada for a Demonstration Small Modular Reactor (SMR). In promoting the site, Blair developed the concept of Pinawa becoming the Demonstration Remote Community. A microgrid will be set up for Pinawa that would enable the community to be powered by the StarCore Nuclear SMR. Pinawa would become the first off-grid community to be powered by an SMR. Blair developed a vision for the demonstration to show how the StarCore SMR could change the quality of life for a remote community. There are many ways an SMR will improve quality of life but the most important demonstration would be to show how a remote community could grow fresh fruit and vegetables year round in a harsh climate. This will help StarCore Nuclear to promote their SMR technology to a remote, off-grid community or mine site. A visitor to Pinawa will be able to see that the StarCore Nuclear SMR is running safely, reliably, and cost effectively and they will also see the community of Pinawa, a community very much like their community, being powered by the SMR. They would also see all the different opportunities to improve their quality of life that would be enabled by embracing a StarCore Nuclear SMR. This will be a very compelling demonstration for the target market of remote, off-grid communities and remote mine sites.