Tag Archives: moe

Proposed Hydroelectric Generating Station at the Bala Falls

Bala Falls Portage

Posted 8 March 2014

There is a lot at stake in a battle that has gone on for close to a decade.  Through a “Competitive Site Release” in 2004 the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) made some Crown land available south of the Bala north falls for the development of a hydro-electric generating station (Bala is north-west of Gravenhurst). The MNR is very motivated to see this happen, as not only would it help fulfill the province’s mandate for additional power generation from renewable energy sources, but MNR staff would also no longer need to adjust stop-logs to regulate water flows and levels, or be responsible for the maintenance and repair of the Bala north and south dams – instead, the proponent would have these responsibilities. Unfortunately, the MNR appears to be so motivated that they have shown little concern for the many negative impacts on fish spawning and other habitat problems that would be created.

In 2005 a proponent was awarded “Applicant of Record” status, and since then has proposed at least three different configurations, all of which would also create major public safety and economic problems.

SaveTheBalaFalls.com, the local cottager association, and the public have therefore been actively engaged both in the process and also in ensuring the appropriate government Ministries, agencies, and politicians are presented with the many outstanding concerns and issues.

One major issue is that the Bala Falls landscape is central to Bala and the surrounding area’s recreation and tourism economy as the falls are very visible and accessible, and are the main focus of visits – including literally bus-loads of tourists in the summer. They come to view the falls, to climb on the rocks, and to play in the usually serene water at the base of the falls. There are also residences within 200 feet, as well as long-time and very popular public in-water recreation that occurs within 50 feet, both upstream and downstream of the proposed generating station and the treacherously turbulent water it would create.

Another major issue is that the proposed project would obstruct a traditional and historic Portage, which is still in use. As a result of a request by the MNR, written historical proof was provided to confirm that this Portage was in use prior to the initial Crown land patent, and Section 65(4) of the Public Lands Act prohibits such obstruction. In May 2013 the MNR unilaterally declared that this land was suddenly too dangerous for the public to access – even though their own 2011 Public Safety Measures Plan for this exact area had no such concerns. We have responded with reasons why this proposed project would still be illegal under the Public Lands Act, and await a response on this complicated topic.

Two years ago, the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) told us that in the ten years the current legislation has been in place, there have been more than 50 requests to elevate different proposed hydro-electric generation proposals to an Individual Environmental Assessment. Such further study is the required first step to having any chance of an Environmental Assessment (EA) approval being denied. But the MOE has denied EVERY ONE of these 50 requests. That is, there has never been a “Part II Order” request for elevation approved. This places the fairness and efficacy of the entire EA process in question.

The current situation for the proposed Bala project is that not only are major approvals still required from all four levels of government, but there are legal challenges as well.

And SaveTheBalaFalls.com and the community will continue to ask; would it be safe, would it be beautiful, and would there be enough water over the falls to continue to draw people to Bala. We still don’t have answers, so we continue to ensure decision-makers know the problems.

Click here for more information, including the sign-up for our e-Newsletters.


Coordinated Policy Guidance for Waterpower Projects – EBR 012-0290

MOECC Decision Notice – 5 October 2016:  Following the posting of the Proposal Notice on the Environmental Registry, the Ministry decided not to move forward with Coordinated Policy Guidance for Waterpower Projects after considering EBR comments and having discussions both internally and with stakeholders. MOECC continues to look for ways to modernize and improve approvals and permitting for Waterpower Projects in a way that is fully protective of human health and the environment.

MOECC Proposal:  The proposed Coordinated Policy Guidance for Waterpower Projects has been developed by MNR and MOE to clarify roles and responsibilities. The proposed Guidance document provides clarification of Ministry specific roles and responsibilities for waterpower projects, in reviewing and issuing authorizations. This proposed policy guidance does not alter the powers or duties of either ministry in their administration of any Act or regulation.   Ontario Rivers Alliance and Robert MacGregor made the following submissions on this posting: Continue reading


Public Meetings for a Proposed Mega-Landfill Site in Headwaters draining into Castor, South Nation and Ottawa Rivers

South Nation Watershed – Go to bottom of posting to see details of Public Meetings on 25 & 27 February, 2013

As part of the campaign to preserve healthy Ontario rivers please note that a very valuable, rich and unique habitat containing numerous species-at-risk and holding the headwaters of several streams is at serious risk. This place is in Russell Township just outside the city of Ottawa in and around a former shale quarry, which is now a lake. Streams and springs rise up on the hill around the lake and drain into the Castor River, which drains into the South Nation and then the Ottawa. Species at Risk at the site include Bobolinks, Cooper’s Hawks, 10 species of amphibians (some at risk and some less so, although all amphibians have survival problems now), snapping and probably other turtles, Eastern Meadowlarks, Butternuts, rare Liverworts, several Mollusc species (snails), trees of increasing rarity, Orchids, and mosses, lichens and fungi. It is an important migration stopover point–at times hosting tens of thousands of birds at once.

That site is also the proposed site of a mega-landfill, which would be owned and run by Taggart Miller Environmental Services and called the Capital Region Resource Recovery Centre (CRRRC.ca). Taggarts own some of Ottawa’s biggest construction companies and Miller owns waste and construction companies in southern Ontario. They proposed to drain the 40-ac lake, fill it with rock and soil, blast a bigger hole beside it, and strip the site (which is between 200 and 470 ac, depending on if they exercise options on neighbouring farmland or not). The surrounding communities have been fighting the proposal for over two years. A few days before Christmas the Ontario Ministry of the Environment approved Taggart Miller’s Terms of Reference, even though serious problems with the vague, misleading document were clearly pointed out to the ministry by the community, which had completed their own scientific studies. Continue reading