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

Sep 122015
 

Summary

To facilitate their proposed construction, the proponent for the proposed hydro-electric generating station at the Bala Falls needs to lease the Township of Muskoka Lakes’ Portage Landing. We understand the proponent would then clear-cut all 100 trees there, and drive heavy construction equipment through it for years.

The concern is the Mayor and Councillors do not yet know the terms of this lease, yet at this Friday’s Council meeting they will likely be voting on a Resolution authorizing it be signed.

Come out to the Township of Muskoka Lakes Council meeting this Friday morning to show we want to know:

  • How the Township will ensure that Margaret Burgess Park would not be impacted – as the proponent has committed, but not honoured (the proponent has already prevented use of Margaret Burgess Park last Canada Day).
  • That the Township would not have to pay to restore their Portage Landing lands if the proponent goes bankrupt.

We’ll send another e-Newsletter in a few days when the Township announces at what time this issue will be discussed.
 

Detail

Township of Muskoka Lakes Council meeting, Friday September 18, 2015
The proponent for the proposed hydro-electric generating station at the Bala Falls plans the largest possible building, which would extend to within inches of all four property boundaries. To facilitate the construction for this difficult situation they created, the proponent has requested to lease the Township of Muskoka Lakes’ Portage Landing lands, which are directly south of the proposed construction site.

The Township of Muskoka Lakes staff have been negotiating this lease with the proponent and the next Council meeting may include voting on a Resolution authorizing the Township sign this lease.

This Council meeting would be at 1 Bailey Street, Port Carling, this Friday September 18, 2015, sometime after 9:00 am. We will send an e-Newsletter with more details when the Township provides this information in the next few days.

Remarkably, the Mayor and Councillors have not seen this lease and do not know its details. Come out to this Council meeting to see if the Township will protect the public’s interest by ensuring we first all know the following:

  1. Impact to Margaret Burgess Park. The proponent has said that if they can use the Township’s Portage Landing to facilitate their proposed construction, then they would not impact Margaret Burgess Park. They certainly did not honour this earlier this summer when they decided the Moon River Property Owners’ Assocation could not hold their 5th annual Canada Day party in Margaret Burgess Park.
    • We need to know how the Township will be assured the proponent would honour their commitment and how it would be enforced, given that the Township does not own or control Margaret Burgess Park.
       
  2. Impact to Portage Landing. The proponent would clear-cut over 100 trees from the Township’s Portage Landing, even though it has been designated for protection under the Ontario Heritage Act.
    • The public needs to hear what the proponent would be allowed to do to this site and how the heritage attributes would be protected.
       
  3. Restoration of Portage Landing. The public needs to know details of the proponent’s restoration of Portage Landing and how this would be assured.
    • The Township should require the proponent provide a Letter of Credit to ensure the site would be fully restored even if the proponent goes bankrupt.
       
  4. Payment and Terms. The public needs to know …
    • The payments, terms, and schedule required from the proponent.
    • How it would be assured that these funds would benefit Bala and not the rest of the Township.
    • That the proponent would be required to provide a Letter of Credit to ensure payment even if the proponent goes bankrupt (which is a huge concern, as the proponent has no assets, no employees, and no operations). Given; the potential costs to restore Portage Landing, the lease payments required, and the disruption to Bala, we suggest the Township require a $1,000,000 Letter of Credit from the proponent.
       
  5. Parking Lots. This lease would include the proponent fencing-off and having complete control over the south half of the Don’s Bakery parking lot and half of the Precambrian Shield parking lot. They would fill these with construction equipment and materials for years.
    • Losing this valuable parking space would negatively affect the area’s businesses and economy, yet the proponent has not provided any details of fence locations, schedule, or mitigation measures for this.
       
  6. Duration. Given the previous multi-year mess in Port Carling where a stalled construction project was left for years to be resolved, the proposed Bala project could also be a disaster. While the proponent has some approvals to start their proposed project, they do not have all approvals to complete it. So Bala could also be left with years of treeless mess.
    • The public needs to know how long this construction could take, and the power and funds the Township would have to restore Portage Landing to be safe and attractive if left with a mess.
       
  7. Maintenance of Margaret Burgess Park. As the Ministry of Natural Resources has given the proponent responsibility for Margaret Burgess Park, we need to know what commitments they would make to keep it safe and attractive, including cutting the grass, cleaning up litter,  ensuring picnic tables are safe, and trimming trees.
     

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