The proposed project would make all this too dangerous to continue …

Feb 032015

Our understanding of the current status of the proposed project to build a hydro-electric generating station at the Bala Falls is that the proponent still does not have all the approvals they would need to start work. Also, we have sent letters to the government noting several important issues concerning approvals the proponent has already received, and we await responses.

The proponent still needs the Plans and Specifications for both their proposed construction sequence and final works to be approved by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. While both parties originally expected this process could be done in 60 days, it has now been over nine months. You can see some reasons for the delay here, as the work could damage the Bala north dam. There are other concerns, such as the risk of flooding Lake Muskoka.

Also, the proponent’s proposed construction sequence would not be according to their environmental approvals. We continue to wait for a response from the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change about this.

The importance of maintaining portages
This article shows that developers at other hydro-electric generating stations in Muskoka were required to maintain existing portages. However, so far, this has not been required for the proposed Bala project. Worse still is that Transport Canada has accepted alternate portages in Bala which would be too dangerous and would trespass over private property. We continue to wait for a response from the Minister of Transport on this issue.

MP Tony Clement, we’re not happy
Transportation safety is a main mandate of Transport Canada, yet they have not even sent an e-mail in reply acknowledging our many concerns of public safety and land ownership. So we asked our MP Tony Clement to facilitate a meeting so we could discuss this directly with Transport Canada. After much prodding all MP Clement would do was report that he “Suggested a meeting. Thus far they have declined.”

Rather than simply defending government agencies from having to respond to the public, elected politicians should be strongly advocating for the public’s concerns, especially when a government agency is not fulfilling its mandate.

MP Clement rightly notes the province is a key decision maker for this issue, but boating safety is a federal responsibility and we have boating safety questions. In this election year, we continue to look for MP Clement to follow through on his statement “I’m not happy till my constituents are happy.” MP Clement, your constituents are not happy. Transport Canada’s approval has created confusion, which is unacceptable for serious issues of public safety and trespassing. We look forward to your standing up for Muskoka on this issue.

Excellent interview
Last week Allan Turnbull was interviewed on Hunters Bay Radio. He provided a clear explanation of what is wrong with Ontario’s provincial energy policy, and how it is bad for Ontario’s economy and for all of Ontario’s electricity consumers (note that at 8:17 even Arlo the station’s dog understands Allan and gets upset about the Global Adjustment). The proposed hydro-electric generating station at the Bala falls is just one example of good intentions gone wrong. Listen to the interview using the bottom link here.

Township of Muskoka Lakes Board and Committee Appointments
As noted here, the Township of Muskoka Lakes has openings on several Boards and Committees for citizen members. Applications from those wishing to be considered will be accepted until 4:00 pm on February 4, 2015. We realize this is short notice, but the detail of these appointments, such as the Committee mandate, composition, and term was only posted on Friday. Being involved with government is the best way to better understand the process and help shape outcomes.

Township of Muskoka Lakes Community Input Sessions
The Township of Muksoka Lakes would like to hear from you, and has scheduled four Community Input Sessions, in Port Carling, Windermere, Torrance – and there will even be a GTA session on Monday February 9, 2015 at 7:00 pm at the Hilton Garden Inn at 3201 Highway 7. More detail is here.

Township of Muskoka Lakes Community  Strategic Plan
Using input from the above Community Input Sessions, the Township of Muskoka Lakes is updating its strategic plan. A two-page summary of the process is here. The process includes an on-line survey, which you can access here.

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