Transport Canada has a responsibility under the Navigation Protection Act to regulate works that could affect marine navigation in bodies of water such as Lake Muskoka. Transport Canada considers portaging an aspect of marine navigation, so also considers impacts to portages.
As part of the proposed project would directly impact both in-water marine navigation in Lake Muskoka and also portaging, the proponent submitted an application and received approval from Transport Canada.
However, Transport Canada’s approval apparently relied too much on information from the proponent and therefore has created much confusion, for example:
- The approval accepted both alternate portage routes suggested by the proponent, but these trespass over private property and require travel in the Mill Stream, which YMCA Camp Pine Crest confirms is too dangerous for canoeing.
- The proposed generating station would operate at full capacity an average of 21 days each summer, and would also begin operation at about noon on about ⅓ of summer days, both of which would create dangers to marine navigation in the Moon River.
The proponent never “opted-in” to request Transport Canada assess marine navigation impacts for the Mill Stream and Moon River, so Transport Canada’s assessment would only have been for Lake Muskoka, which is the only “scheduled waterway” involved.
But the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry apparently believes that Transport Canada’s approval applies to all waters and all portages. Such ambiguity and confusion is unacceptable for issues of public safety and trespassing:
- So we sent this February 7, 2014 letter concerning marine navigation to Transport Canada. No reply was received.
- Then we sent this August 12, 2014 letter concerning portaging to Transport Canada. No reply was received.
- Then we sent this November 24, 2014 letter to MP Tony Clement asking for his assistance to arrange a direct meeting with Transport Canada. After some prodding, Minister Clement reported that he “suggested a meeting” to Transport Canada, but “Thus far they have declined”.
Transport Canada’s Service Charter shows they pledge to treat individuals with respect and courtesy, provide accurate and timely service, and clearly explain decisions. They clearly have not done any of this.
We have therefore sent this January 13, 2015 letter to the Minister of Transport.