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

Sep 152017

In January 2017 – which was over seven months ago – your office received hundreds of letters such as this one, asking for a reply to the public’s request that the public safety concerns be addressed before any further permits are issued for the proposed hydro-electric generating station at the Bala falls.

Most people that sent a letter never received a reply (and the public safety concerns remain unaddressed), but now your office is sending out this form letter, which makes the following unfulfilled claims:

  1. That: “to make sure projects are developed safely and in a way that protects the environment and community health”, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change’s “process requires companies to assess any environmental impacts, describe mitigation measures and consult with members of the community”. Your letter is spreading fake news:
    • This has not happened. In fact, both the proponent and MNRF refuse to even disclose the draft Public Safety plan.
    • Therefore, the proponent has not described mitigation measures, and they did not consult members of the community.
  2. That the: “MOECC worked closely with numerous agencies including …” and: “concluded that the Bala Falls project could operate safely and meet the provincial standards that are in place to protect health and the environment”. This makes no sense:
    • None of the listed agencies have experience with public safety for in-water recreation, so whatever they did was inadequate. This has already been proven as the proponent has:
      • Stated they would not warn before increasing flow to the Moon River. This would be dangerous and would not comply with the MNRF’s public safety guidelines.
      • Shown their proposed downstream safety boom would not encompass the water they would make dangerous, so would not comply with the Canadian Dam Association’s public safety guidelines.
    • There are no “provincial standards” for in-water recreational safety, just as there are no standards for how close wind turbines can be to an airport. Properly addressing the danger they would create requires expertise and examining the particular situation.
      • This is confirmed by the recent decision by the Environmental Review Tribunal which reversed the MOECC’s approval that had permitted eight 45-storey-tall wind turbines on the flight path for two airports near Collingwood, Ontario (it required six teams of lawyers and many experts to prove what everyone but the MOECC would say is just common sense).
    • The MOECC has not even seen the draft Safety Plan, so whatever the MOECC concluded was premature.

Ghost writer, the proponent and MNRF have never built or operated a hydro-electric generating station in the middle of a popular in-water recreational area, this would be unprecedented. Developing a Safety Plan for this requires in-water recreational safety expertise – which the MNRF and proponent do not have.

Public Safety is a serious life-and-death issue, and your vague letter only spreads false and unjustified information.

It is unacceptable that both the MNRF and proponent refuse to release the Safety Plan – what are they hiding. Think about it, a public safety plan that isn’t being disclosed to the public, there is something wrong here.

We request that before any further approvals are issued to the proponent, that a Safety Plan be properly developed by those with such expertise, and presented to the public as part of an Addendum as is required by the environmental assessment process.

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