The community is angry that Ontario’s Liberal government is allowing this dangerous proposed project to proceed.
- It would be unprecedented to build a hydro-electric generating station in the middle of an extremely popular in-water recreational area. For generations, people have been swimming, wading, and canoeing here, and hydro-electric generating stations are too dangerous.
- Hydro-electric generating stations can be a great source of electrical power – if they are in the right location, away from people.
- But it would be unprecedented to build a hydro-electric generating station this close to private residences, and this close to private docks – so the required warning signs couldn’t even be installed.
- It would be unprecedented to build a hydro-electric generating station this close to public docks, where people have a right to expect the water to be safe as this is a navigable waterway.
- The proposed Bala hydro-electric generating station would be more than ten times bigger than the nearby Wilson’s Falls Generating Station which caused the 2008 drowning of a 16-year-old boy. Hydro-electric generating stations are deadly.
Recent legal decisions have confirmed that public safety is the responsibility of Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, and should be handled as part of the environmental assessment process. But the Bala proponent has made changes to their plans after they received their approval in 2013, and these new plans are dangerous and do not have approval. The MOECC should inform the proponent that while their 2013 environmental approval is still valid, if they wish to proceed with their new plans, they must submit an environmental assessment Addendum, which requires that the public and all stakeholders be informed of negative environmental impacts, the proposed mitigation of these, and allows the public to provide comment.
- The current process is out of control. For example, without approval, the proponent now plans to install a curved wall in the Bala north channel to direct water into the intake for their proposed generating station. When their proposed generating station would be stopped, this water could cause erosion of the bank supporting the highway bridge, which could collapse. This would be a disaster for the area as the detour is 50 km, yet the public has not been informed of these new plans, or how this risk would be handled.
- Another example is that during the proposed construction, the proponent must use large settling tanks to test and treat the contaminated water that would be pumped from their proposed excavation. The proponent now plans on locating these in the Moon River, perhaps on piles of excavated rock, or perhaps on some struture above the Moon River. As these tanks, and the pumps, hoses, and pipes to them can leak, the location of these tanks, and ability to detect leaks is environmentally significant. But these new plans to locate the proposed settling tanks in the Moon River were not disclosed for the proponent’s environmental assessment, have never been disclosed to the public, and therefore do not have environmental approval.
- As it would be unprecedented to build a hydro-electric generating station in the middle of an in-water recreational area, the proponent should be required to present a plan showing how they propose to safely operate such a facility. So far, all we know is the proponent has stated they would not provide warning before increasing flow to the Moon River – which would not conform to the MNRF’s public safety guidelines. And the fast and dangerous water exiting the proposed generating station would extend hundreds of feet outside of their proposed downstream safety boom – which would not conform to the Canadian Dam Association’s public safety guidelines.
The Environmental Assessment Act requires that the MOECC’s decisions are for the: “the betterment of the people of the whole or any part of Ontario by providing for the protection, conservation and wise management in Ontario of the environment.”
The MOECC’s Statement of Environmental Values; requires: “public engagement”, requires that: “in making decsions, the Ministry will use the best science available”, and notes that the Ministry: “believes that public consultation is vital to sound decision-making” and: “the Ministry will provide opportunities for an open and consultative process when making decisions that might significantly affect the environment.”
We look forward to the MOECC fulfilling its obligations for this proposed project.