We’re just trying to ensure that unsuspecting tourists are not drowned by the proposed hydro-electric generating station at the Bala falls.
So we have informed the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNR) that it would be outrageously dangerous and unprecedented to locate an remotely-controlled generating station in the middle of an in-water recreational area (a station one-tenth the size caused the drowning of a 16 year-old-boy at the nearby Wilson’s Falls hydro-electric generating station in 2008, so the danger is real).
Here are some ridiculous statements the MNR has given for their continued promotion of this poorly-planned bad idea:
- In this October 20, 2015 letter the MNRF states that the area immediately below the Bala north dam is at a higher elevation than the Moon River, as justification that tourists could continue to wade in the water there. This is as absurd as telling a child they can play at the edge of a cliff or on the shoulder of highway “because it is safe there”.
- In another absurd statement, in this letter the MNR reminds us that we can just call 911 “for emergency response personnel to attend the site in a timely way” – does the MNR not realize we have a volunteer fire department in Bala. For the Wilson’s falls 2008 drowning the Ontario Provincial Police’s Underwater Search and Recovery Unit (Scuba diving team) was not available until the next day. For the 2009 drownings the OPP had to borrow a boat from Purk’s Place (which would no longer be possible, as the proposed generating station would shut down Purk’s boat rentals). We’re trying to prevent drownings not ensure there’s someone to recover dead bodies.
The problem is there is no way to prevent people from being in the water at the Bala falls. It is an extremely popular in-water recreational area. There are public and private docks within 200′ downstream, the proponent has stated they would build a portage 10′ south, the open shoreline of Margaret Burgess Park is 50′ north, and Scuba diving from Diver’s Point is just upstream as are the public docks on Bala Bay. The MNR has no jurisdiction to post “No Swimming” signs in all the locations they would be needed to protect tourists. The MNR apparently believes they could ban swimming in Bala, we don’t see how this could actually be achieved, and nobody wants Bala to become known as the drowning capital of Ontario.
We ask that no further approvals be given until a feasible safety plan has been presented.