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

Feb 112015

Here are some updates on the proposed project to build a hydro-electric generating station at the Bala falls.

There are still many significant unaddressed issues which could prevent the proponent from receiving the approvals or financing they would need to start construction, for example:

  • While Transport Canada has provided an approval, it isn’t clear what this is for, as Transport Canada did not assess boating safety in the Mill Stream or Moon River (which would be negatively impacted by the proposed project). Also, there are public safety and land ownership issues for the alternative portage routes proposed by the proponent.
  • While the Ministry of the Environment has provided their approval, the proponent’s plans include work not covered by this approval.
  • The Ministry of Natural Resources has apparently still not provided required approvals.
  • The Wahta Mohawks have apparently not been consulted on the negative impacts of the currently proposed project, both for proposed actions by the proponent and for actions by the MNR.

We will therefore be making a short presentation to the Township of Muskoka Lakes Council this Friday February 13, 2015 at 9:45 am, in the Council Chambers in Port Carling. Please attend if convenient (apparently the proponent had requested to present, but today they decided they would not).

Tom Adams
Tom Adams is a knowledgable and deservedly well-respected energy critic, and is frequently quoted in the press and interviewed on television about Ontario’s energy pricing and provincial energy policies. He is a tireless researcher and recently co-authored with Ross McKitrick the report What Goes Up … Ontario’s Soaring Electricty Prices and How to Get Them Down, which was well-received and widely reported a few months ago (such as here, here, and here). Tom’s web site is here, and you can follow him on twitter here.

Tom has been concerned about the proposed Bala project for some time and he plans on visiting Bala this Thursday February 12, 2015. To show support for Peggy, he plans on camping out overnight, even though the forecast is for an overnight low of -26°C. Come out in the afternoon to say hello and see the progress of the Quinzhee construction, meet his dog, or join the get-together at the Bala Falls Pub starting at 5:00 pm.

The proponent’s string of broken promises and commitments they wouldn’t keep
For ten years the proponent has been saying they would:

  • Be “Creating opportunities for recreation”. But in fact they would be making nearby recreation too dangerous to continue.
  • Build a “a low-profile power house … Its roof will be below road level”. But in fact their recent drawings show it would be 28′ above road level.
  • Be “creating an excellent vantage point for visitors “. But in fact there would be no vantage point, and their 56′-wide building would block the view down the Moon River.

Many more examples of the proponent reneging on commitments are noted here.

This entire process was started by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resource’s 2005 request for proposals, which reserved the right to “disqualify any Applicant whose Proposal contains … materially inaccurate or misleading information”. The proponent’s intention to not fulfill these fundamental obligations of their proposal are certainly material. The proponent should therefore be disqualified from being able to further pursue this opportunity.

Of course the proponent could claim the process is now far past the proposal stage. But here we are, ten years after the proponent submitted their proposal, and only months away from when they claim they would start construction, and only now are a few drawings being provided, so there was no earlier time that it could have been known that the proponent would not meet their commitments.

Township of Muskoka Lakes Community Input Session
The last of the Township’s four Community Input Sessions will be this Saturday morning February 14, 2015 at 10:00 am at the Torrance Community Centre. Please attend if you are able, as this is where the Township would like to receive input for their Strategic Plan.

For example, looking at the Township’s survey here, you may feel there is a lack of attention to issues relevant to seasonal residents (who provide a significant majority of the tax revenue to the Township), such as promoting tourism, protecting natural resources, and protecting heritage sites – which are all important to the long-term viability of the area’s economy.

Attend and ensure our elected representatives hear your concerns.

A Valentine’s Day card to the Bala Falls
Long-time supporter Brian Munro (perhaps you’ve seen his truck in town) has shared with us his beautiful Valentine’s Day card to the Bala Falls and made a great poster showing the message from PaddleShack, as photographed by John Wright.

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