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

Sep 152017
 

Quick summary
While the proponent has started some pre-construction work for their proposed hydro-electric generating station at the Bala falls, they do not have all the approvals they need for construction. As the proponent has still not addressed the serious public safety concerns, now is (again) the time for everyone to send an e-mail to the Premier, details below.
 

It is (again) time to send an e-mail to the Premier
The proponent and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) have never built, operated, or approved a hydro-electric generating station in the middle of a very popular in-water recreational area, yet they both refuse to disclose whatever Safety Plan they may have for the unprecedented danger that would be created.

As noted in our article here, this is completely ridiculous and unacceptable, so now is the time for everyone to send an e-mail to the Premier:

  • Send your e-mail to: KWynne.mpp@liberal.ola.org
  • Copy: norm.miller@pc.ola.org and info@savethebalafalls.com
  • Subject: Bala, Safety Plan before any construction
  • Send the e-mail before: Tuesday September 19, 2017.
  • Ask that: A Safety Plan prepared by a qualified person be presented to the public as part of an Addendum as is required by the environmental assessment process before any further approvals are issued. Also, ask for a reply to your e-mail.
     

Our new video
We had a fantastic turn-out for the September 1, 2017 show of opposition to the proposed project. Thank you to all who came out. Our new video with a message to Premier Wynne is here.

A longer video showing the area's scenery is here, and a previous video is here.
 

The current situation
The proponent has started pre-construction work, and are apparently first working to install their proposed upstream cofferdam, which would be a large steel structure located between the highway bridge and the Bala north dam.

This proposed cofferdam is shown in this page from a presentation by the the District Municipality of Muskoka's Commissioner of Engineering and Public Works last month. The purpose of the proposed cofferdam is to keep the water away from the proposed intake, for which they would need to excavate more than 20' below the riverbed of the Bala north channel.

While the proponent apparently has approval from the MNRF for this in-water work:

  • They do not yet have approval from the MOECC for the settling tanks that would be needed to test and treat this water before they could pump it into the Moon River. So it would appear they will soon need to stop construction until they receive this approval. This is why now is the time to e-mail the Premier.
  • They have not addressed a risk that the operation of their proposed generating station could damage the District's highway bridge. We await a response from the District about this.
     

Our interview on CFRB 1010
Last week we had an opportunity to be interviewed on Toronto radio station CFRB 1010. The audio is posted in our article here.
 

Proponent's “Construction Meeting”
The proponent sent a tweet that they will be hosting a Construction Meeting Thursday September 21, 2017 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm, at the Bala Community Center, 1008 Maple Avenue. The agenda is here.

We'll be there to try and get answers to the questions the community has.
 

Reporting suspected environmental damage
It is important for the public to be carefully watching for, and responsibly reporting, any suspected environmental damage due to the proposed construction. This would include spills such as gasoline, and anything that gets into the water such as silt or surface runoff which would be seen as a plume of discoloured water runnng downstream into the Moon River.

Such incidents should be reported to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change’s Spills Action Centre at 1 800 268-6060. Calls are answered 24 hours a day by a centre in Toronto, and a Reference Number will be provided. The actual investigation would be handled by the MOECC's Barrie District Office, who can later be called for updates if you have the Reference Number. Some additional information is here.

It would always be helpful to take photographs of such incidents.

If necessary to prevent the problem from continuing, the MOECC will order that work be stopped. The MOECC can also order the contractors to do or pay for any remediation required.
 

Reporting unsafe work practices
If you see anything that appears dangerous due to the proposed construction work, such as equipment or practices that could harm people, a report can be made to the Ministry of Labour's Health & Safety Contact Centre at 1 877 202-0008, their web page is here. This Ministry can also issue a stop work order until a dangerous situation is resolved.
 

Broad community opposition and concern
We know and appreciate that there are many community groups and individuals that strongly – and rightly – oppose many aspects of this proposed project.

We also know people have been independently picketing near the proposed construction for many days. While everyone can exercise their civil rights, we encourage all to be safe, not impede traffic, and respect all posted signs.

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