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

Jun 052017
 

Here is an update on the current situation for the proposed hydro-electric generating station at the Bala falls:

  1. We understand that the proponent still does not have construction approvals they need from the; Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF), Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC), and Municipality.
     
  2. Concerning their “anticipated start date”, in a recent newspaper article the proponent stated: “We are hopeful we are able to make our target of July 15 or soon after” to allow for the completion of the regional fish spawning season “That has always been a restriction in our environmental assessments”.
     
    That is a surprising – and incorrect – statement since in 2014 the proponent requested permission and in 2015 (that is, more than two years ago) the proponent received permission from the MNRF to start in-water work on June 1 rather than July 15. The proponent would desperately need to start work on this earlier date of June 1 in the hope that they could finish all work requiring their proposed temporary cofferdams in the ten months available, as they must remove their cofferdams before April 1 to allow unrestricted flow from Lake Muskoka, for the spring freshet.

    Their current delay of not starting until July 15 would likely result in their having to install their proposed cofferdams a second time   and not until June 1, 2018. This would extend their proposed construction by up to a year. So in addition to this proposed project being a public safety disaster for the public, it would also be a financial disaster for their investors.
     
    The summary is that the proponent hasn’t started work because they don’t have their approvals, and they don’t have their approvals because after more than 11 years of struggling, they still haven’t met the conditions required of them. They appear to be trying to hide their incompetence from their potential investors by making up fictitious dates for their environmental restrictions.
     

  3. The proponent has still not shown how or if they could safely operate their proposed generating station even though this is a requirement of the Environmental Assessment process. This loophole happened because the proponent did not disclose their dangerous design decisions until after they received their 2013 environmental approval.
     
    For example, we now know:

    1. During the proposed operation:
      • The dangerously turbulent water due to the proposed generating station would extend far outside the proponent’s proposed downstream safety boom. This would deceive the public into believing they would be safe when they would be in danger. And this would not comply with the Canadian Dam Association’s public safety guidelines.
      • The proponent would not warn the public before starting operation. This too would be extremely dangerous, and would not comply with the MNRF’s public safety guidelines.
      • The proponent would build a large concrete deflection wall in the Bala north channel. This would restrict flow from Lake Muskoka and therefore increase the risk of flooding Lake Muskoka throughout the year.
         
    2. During the proposed construction:
      • The excavation for the proposed upstream cofferdam would risk damage to the District’s highway bridge. These plans have not been disclosed to the District.
         

    The proper procedure for this situation of making environmentally-significant changes to approved plans is for the MOECC to inform the proponent that their plans do not conform to their approval. The proponent then must submit an Addendum to their environmental assessment, and this would detail the mitigation for the proposed changes so all stakeholders can be informed and have an opportunity to provide comment.
     

  4. We understand that most of you have not received a response to the e-mails you sent to the Premier last January. This shows that the government does not have acceptable answers to the serious public safety questions asked.
     
  5. The recent and major provincial government’s political decisions to make substantial changes to; electricity prices, Tarion, the Ontario Municipal Board, and beer and wine distribution shows that the Ontario Liberal government realizes they must make major changes before next summer’s provincial election.
     

Recent articles

  1. Continuing our public service work to educate prospective investors about the unaddressed risks for this proposed project, we have posted this article about the value of what an investor/purchaser would get for their money, and this article about the much greater liabilities the Bala proponent would have compared to the situation for the 2008 drowning caused by the Wilson’s Falls generating station.
     
  2. While the spring flooding wasn’t as bad this year as last, the MNRF could have reduced the flooding by lowering the water levels more than they did. Articles on this are posted here and here.
     

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