At the proponent’s Construction Meeting at the Bala Community Centre on September 21, 2017, in response to the unaddressed dangers the proposed project would create for in-water recreation, Moderator John Kim Bell replied: “they weren’t supposed to be swimming in there”.
This is incorrect.
The Moon River is a navigable waterway, and therefore the public has every right to “go jump in the lake” (or river) if they wish, as is provided by the common law riparian right of access.
We well know that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has a sign posted on the Bala north dam which warns: “Danger, Fast Water, Keep Away”. This sign pertains to the dangers created by the Bala north dam at the top of the Bala north falls, and indeed people should be mindful of the water over these falls.
But our concern is the dangers the proposed hydro-electric generating station would create far from the influence of the Bala north dam. As shown in the figure below (click on it for a larger view), the concern is that the proposed project would make the water dangerous:
- In the middle of the Moon River, and far outside of the proposed downstream safety boom.
- In front of people’s private docks.
- For people travelling to and from the municipal docks on the Moon River, which are the only public docks on the Moon River. For example, as shown in this article.
The MNRF’s warning sign does not apply to the entire Moon River. And the doctrine of reasonable use precludes the proponent from depriving the public from use of the Moon River.
The public has the right to swim in the Moon River, so it is a lie to say: “they weren’t supposed to be swimming in there”.