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

Aug 272015

Minister of the Environment Murray needs to know …
The danger would be unprecedented and unmitigated

It would be completely unprecedented to build a hydro-electric generating station this close to; public and private docks, in-water recreational areas, and private residences.

Yet rather than mitigatting this extreme danger, since receiving environmental approval, the proponent has changed their plans so their proposed generating station would be even more deadly.

Now is the time to e-mail Minister of the Environment Glen Murray, copying Premier Wynne and Minister of Natural Resources Mauro (click here to start the e-mail), and tell them:

  • It would be unprecedented to build a hydro-electric generating station this close to a recreational area – the Bala north falls is the most popular in-water recreational area in the entire Township of Muksoka Lakes.
  • The proponent has no plans to make this safe – instead of mitigating this risk, they have actually made their plans more dangerous since they received environmental approval.

We realize that we’ve been suggesting you write more e-mails lately, we do this because the government carefully monitors how widespread concerns are, and more e-mails to the government means more attention from the government. No need for great detail – we’re doing that – the need is for everyone to send e-mails, as brief as you’d like. So send this e-mail now (and ask for a reply), and ask your friends and family to do the same.

Click below to see our current two-page flyer.

It would be unprecedented
As detailed here, visiting 32 similarly-sized hydro-electric generating stations in southern Ontario shows that:

  • NONE have public or private docks nearby. Yet Bala does – a boat rental is directly upstream, and there are constantly-used public docks both upstream and downstream.
  • NONE have in-water recreation nearby. But Bala has a portage directly upstream, people playing the the Bala north falls downstream, and Scuba diving, canoeing, and kayaking both upstream and downstream.
  • NONE have residences nearby. Bala does, less than 70 m away.

While the proponent’s environmental reports never explained how this could be safe, AFTER receiving environmental approval, the proponent has:

  • INCREASED the size of their generating station.
  • INCREASED the minimum flow through their generating station.
  • INCREASED the cycling flow through their generating station.

While it would be unprecedented to build a generating station so close to people in the water, instead of mitigating this extreme danger, the proponent has increased the danger – and has stated they would not have any warning before each time they start their proposed generating station even though this would create treacherously and deadly turbulent flow directly adjacent to people swimming.

This diagram shows that not only would the treacherously turbulent water exiting the proposed generating station be far outside the downstream safety boom. It also shows that boats drifting south from the Town Docks on Bala Bay (perhaps due to the wind or a stalled engine) would be drawn to the proposed station’s lethal intake.

There’s more that makes no sense …

Claiming that there already shouldn’t be any swimming there
The government believes there already should not be anybody swimming in the water at the base of the Bala north falls. This makes no sense:

  • While the MNR has their standard warning sign posted on the Bala dams (as they try to do on all their 400 dams), this warning applies only to the immediate area of the dam:
    • The icon noting no swimming (which is one of four on the left side of the sign) is too small to see from where people swim (such as at the base of the Bala north falls), as you can see here and here. In fact, the MNR has a detailed publication describing the required text height for this sign, given the distance at which it needs to be read. So if you can’t read an icon, it doesn’t apply where you are. The MNR has therefore shown that they accept swimming at the base of the Bala north falls.
    • The MNR’s own Public Safety Measures Plan for the Bala Dams (that’s an 8 Mbyte download, so will take some time) acknowledges and accepts the existing swimming at the Bala falls (and the MNR has never enforced that people should not be swimming). So the MNR has documented that swimming is acceptable at the Bala falls.
    • There are no actual “No Swimming” signs in the area.
  • The fact is, the Bala north falls is a recreational area. For over 100 years:
    • Purk’s Place and its predecessors have rented canoes just upstream of the Bala north dam.
    • The Lake Muskoka end of the Bala Portage has been just upstream of the Bala north dam, and the Moon River end has been just south of the Bala north falls.
    • People have been wading and swimming at the base of the Bala north falls.

By far, the most popular and visited in-water recreational area in the entire Township of Muskoka Lakes is at the Bala north falls, that is why this in-water recreation is fundamental to the area’s economy, and why the proponent must provide a plan of how they would keep the area safe.

Attempting to justify the proposed station as there used to be a generating station there
The government believes that since there was a generating station operating at the proposed construction site 60 years ago, it justifies the proposed generating station. But we need to tell the government that the proposed generating station would:

  • Have 11 TIMES the flow (this is as much more as a hurricane is to a summer breeze, or a riot control water cannon is to the water flow to your house).
  • Be in an area visited far more now than it was two generations ago.

Claiming the proposed generating station will create green energy jobs
There have been many recent newspaper stories (such as this, this, and this) that renewable energy projects actually have a net loss of jobs after construction is complete, mainly due to the increased cost of electricty. But in Bala there would be the additional direct negative impact that there would be only a trickle of water at the falls, that in-water recreation would be too dangerous to continue, and there would be a huge concrete building towering over the road and obstructing the view down the Moon River. The result would be a net loss to Bala.

What you can do
Send an e-mail to the Minister of the Environment Glen Murray, copying Premier Wynne and the Minister of Natural Resources (click here to start the e-mail) and let them know that the proponent should be required to explain their plans to keep the public safe BEFORE they are permitted to begin construction. Include your name and e-mail address, and and ask for a reply.

Our next Fundraiser
We’ll be out Saturday September 5, 2015, of the Labour Day long weekend, more details to follow.

Donations to our Legal Challenge Fund
Details for on-line (or mailed) donations are here. And as always, if you have any questions or comments, we’re at

  2 Responses to “e-Newsletter – August 27, 2015”

  1. Minister of the Environment Glen Murray,

    Please listen carefully to the Bala, Muskoka community and all the visitors who visit this lovely unique area that wish to stop this unfortunate dam project.
    It is dangerous, ugly, unnecessary, and totally against all that is the natural sustainable environment that now exists.

    Cottage owner at 1018 Rigbey Road, Bala
    Nelson Wong

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