by Mitchell Shnier, Save the Bala Falls
The Township of Muskoka Lakes initiated a Judicial Review in 2013 as the proposed hydro-electric generating station at the Bala Falls would contravene two Sections of the Public Lands Act:
- Section 65(4), which requires that portages not be obstructed – and the proposed generating station would obstruct the traditional Bala Portage. As requested and required by the MNR, we were able to locate historic documents confirming not only that the portage was south of the Bala north falls, but that it was established before the original Crown land patent was granted. That is, as a result of our claim that the Public Lands Act does not permit the MNR to obstruct the Bala Portage, the MNR requested information, and we provided this information, yet they simply ignored and denied what we provided.
- Section 3, which states that if less than 25% of the shoreline frontage of a body of water is Crown land, then the publically-accessible Crown land shoreline cannot be further reduced. And in fact, on the Moon River, there is less than 25% of Crown land frontage, and this would be further reduced by the proposed generating station. The Township was able to show that the MNR did not follow their own required Policy PL 3.02.01 in determing Crown land frontage. However, the MNR simply ignored this policy and presented an incorrect calculation to the Court.
Unfortunately, the end result was that despite the MNR contravening these Sections of the Public Lands Act the Court ultimately decided that Section 28 of the Public Lands supercedes the others, and if the MNR unilaterally decides the lands are unsafe or that the Minister wishes to build a hydro-electric generating station anyways, they can.
Posted 8 March 2014
On February 10, 2014, the Ministry of Natural Resources released its Renewable Energy on Crown Land Policy. A decision notice (Registry # 011-6005) has been posted to Ontario’s Environmental Registry Environmental Registry. The policy document and a summary of key policy content can be downloaded from the Ministry’s website on the renewable energy policy page.
This replaces the Site Release policy, which was a necessary step in the permitting process for waterpower, onshore wind power and solar power developments when Crown land is involved. All proposals with current Feed in Tariff (FIT) contracts will still fall under the Site Release policy; however, new FIT proposals and those under the incoming Large Energy Procurement process will fall under the Renewable Energy on Crown Land Policy. Check out the links above for more details.
Ontario Rivers Alliance made a submission on this EBR posting in October of 2012, and is available below. Continue reading
ORA requests that the Renewable Energy on Crown Land Policy Review take into account the communities and stakeholders that will have to live with the impacts of these hydroelectric dams. Public consultation must be a mandatory component before releasing Crown Land to developers.
A provincial strategy for waterpower development is needed. A strategy that examines the full range of impacts before a site is released to developers, to look at where it makes ecological sense to build hydroelectric dams vs. where it does not make sense. Crown lands are held in trust for the people of Ontario – and therefore they must be effectively and transparently consulted before disposing of a waterpower site. Continue reading
July 11, 2011:
We are concerned about a proposed major amendment to the Crown Land Use Policy Atlas in the Chiniguchi River and Wolf Lake area of the Sudbury District. As the world’s largest old growth red pine forest1, the Wolf Lake area is ecologically unique and simply irreplaceable. As a popular tourist destination, the Wolf and Matagamasi Lake areas are an integral linkage for the Chiniguchi Waterway Park. Continue reading