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

Aug 252016
 

The Current Status

Unaddressed public safety concerns
Instead of figuring out whether or how the proposed hydro-electric generating station at the Bala falls could be operated safely, the MNR and proponent just wishfully say that people should not be in the water there.

As this is a navigable waterway, people have a right to be in the water and yet would have no way of knowing the extent of the treacherously-turbulent water the proposed project would create.

  • For their environmental assessment, the proponent stated they would not create dangers outside of their safety booms. But the proponent’s own information shows the treacherously-turbulent water from their proposed station would extend more than 160′ outside of their proposed downstream safety boom, down the Moon River. It therefore appears the proponent’s proposed project would not conform to their environmental approval.
     
  • The MNR’s own Public Safety Measures Plan for Bala requires that the public be notified before the flow into the Moon River is increased, yet the proponent would not do this.

We have posted an article about these unaddressed public safety issues on our web site here, and have sent a similar letter to the provincial government. We await their reply.
 

Provincial approvals still needed
The proponent still needs at least two approvals from the provincial government before they could begin construction:

  1. From the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MoE) the proponent requires approval for the environmental impacts of their proposed construction work.
    1. While the MoE had been assessing the proponent’s application for this approval, it was found that the information in this application was incorrect and conflicted with the proponent’s land lease they signed July 13, 2016 with the Township of Muskoka Lakes.
      • The MoE awaits updated information from the proponent.
      • And we look forward to the MoE meeting their public notice and public participation obligations required by the Environmental Bill of Rights for these proposed environmental impacts.
         
    2. Interestingly, the proponent spent more than a year negotiating the land lease they desperately need from the Township of Muskoka Lakes to enable their proposed construction. Then two days after signing this lease the proponent was already disputing a clear environmental requirement in it.
       
  2. From the Ministry of Natural Resouces and Forestry (MNR) the proponent needs approval for the design (“Permanent Works”) of their proposed hydro-electric generating station.
    1. The Ontario Building Code requires such structures to have a greater ability to withstand earthquakes than typical structures, yet the proponent appears to have neglected this.
       
    2. Also, while the MNR has previously granted approval for the proponent’s “Temporary Works” (such as for the cofferdams they would require during the proposed construction), the proponent has since changed their plans to a different type of upstream cofferdam, and it appears this change would be environmentally-significant.
      • The proponent’s previous Temporary Works approval therefore would not apply to their current plans.
      • So this would be a third provincial approval they still need, and a step backwards.
      • These new plans could damage both the Bala north dam and the District Municipality of Muskoka’s Muskoka Road 169 bridge over the Bala north channel – which are both crucial public infrastructure.
         

    We await responses from the MNR on these issues.

The summary is this proponent; has never developed a hydro-electric generating station, has been pursuing it for over 11 years, is providing outdated and incorrect information to provincial Ministries for approval, and is going backwards by changing their plans so a previous MNR approval no longer applies.
 

Another safe summer – donations still needed
The lawsuit initiated by SaveTheBalaFalls.com last winter was part of the reason why the proponent could not start construction this summer of 2016, with the happy result that these people (and your family, friends, and cottage guests) were safe.

While we promptly and fully paid the Township of Muskoka Lakes the required costs as determined by the Court, we are still paying down our own legal Counsel’s costs. Donations towards our legal costs can be made as detailed here – your choice whether through the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (for which you will receive a charitable donation income tax receipt) or directly to SaveTheBalaFalls.com.
 

A grand view down the Moon River – of huge steel I-beams and multi-ton hoists
The proponent has been providing fanciful and fictitious renderings of their proposed project for years. And for as long they have been ignoring our questions about these impossible designs. Looking at their current plans shows that their proposed public look-out would require people looking down the Moon River to peer through huge steel I-beams and multi-ton hoists. We’ve posted an article with more detail here.
 

A sad anniversary
It has now been over 11 years that the proponent has been pursuing this proposed project – and ignoring the public’s concerns.

The MNR keeps reminding us that this is a “proponent-driven process”, so why is the MNR blindly defending the proponent. It should be up to the proponent to communicate to the public how they could operate this proposed project safely. An article with more detail is here.
 

An update on the Bala bridges rehabilitation work
Beginning this September 6, 2016, work will begin on the rehabilitation of the District Municipality of Muskoka’s two Muskoka Road 169 bridges in Bala. Work is scheduled to be complete by Spring 2017, more detail is in the District’s notice here.
 

Keep communicating
Let your friends and neighbours know that they can sign themselves up to receive these e-Newsletters using the link at the top-right at SaveTheBalaFalls.com

SaveTheBalaFalls.com

  4 Responses to “e-Newsletter – August 25, 2016”

  1. On October 1, 2010, local opponents rallied at the Ontario legislature and brought in American environmentalist Erin Brockovich to help generate publicity for their fight with the government. Liberal MPP for Oakville Kevin Flynn battled his own government’s plan for the gas plant. On October 7, 2010, Liberal energy minister Brad Duguid announced the cancellation of the Oakville gas plant.[5] Ceding to increasing opposition, Duguid proposed to feed the GTA’s power demand by improving transmission lines.[2][6]

  2. Wondering why there is a chain link fence on the land south of the bridge,who put it there after over 50 years being open to swimmers and fishermen ?

    • Hello Larry, that land south of the Bala north falls is owned by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. For over 11 years a proponent has been pursuing building a hydro-electric generating station there. While they apparently had permission to cut down the trees and build that fence, we don’t know why they did this (last winter), as they still do not have all the approvals they need for their proposed construction. You could ask their project manager, Frank Belerique, at FBelerique@horizonlegacy.com

  3. I very much appreciate receiving this publication. Although I have no personal vested interest I have close friends who do so wish to monitor and contribute in any way I can.
    Peter Black CPA CA
    Britonn & Associates
    Power Technologies – Cogeneration

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