The Council of Canadians supports community and Indigenous opposition to a proposed hydroelectric project at Bala Falls, which is situated two hours north of Toronto.
The 4.5 megawatt project would be located where Lake Muskoka flows into Moon River. It would be situated near a public park where people come to picnic and watch the falls. The project was awarded to Swift Energy in 2005 and was challenged in the Ontario Court of Appeal in 2014.
A key argument has been that under the Ontario Public Lands Act, the province has an obligation to protect the public’s right to portage the historic canoe route at Bala Falls and to protect portions of Crown land along the water for people to use as part of our shared commons.
Peggy Peterson has been protecting this land since August 2014 and is supported by Wahta Mohawks who have not given their free, prior and informed consent for the hydroelectric project.
The dam would be on the territory of the Williams Treaties First Nations, which consists of the Georgina Island First Nation, the Beausoleil First Nation, the Rama First Nation, the Mississaugas’ of Alderville First Nation, the Curve Lake First Nation, the Hiawatha First Nation and the Scugog Island First Nation.
In July 2014, The Globe and Mail reported, “Swift River still requires a land lease from the province and other municipal and federal approvals.”
Peterson tells us, “The company does not have two permits that they need from the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Foresty. We have also identified the traditional portage as a migration route for the Blanding’s Turtle, which is listed as a species at risk in Ontario.”
She is asking people to call the Premier’s Office at 416-325-1941 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to ask for a cancellation of this project based on compassion for a town that has been resisting it for over eleven years.
In an open letter to Premier Wynne published by the Gravenhurst Banner in early-February, Huntsville resident Martha Kashap wrote, “It would be very appropriate of you to honour famous film producer, Rob Stewart, who died this week in the ocean, by putting a stop to the planned hydroelectric plant in Bala, Ontario. Rob was fighting to do this. He wanted to save the beautiful falls and the charming town of Bala for future generations to enjoy. It was a place that Rob loved. Had his life not been cut short, he would have finished the production of the movie, The Fight For Bala- Not a Done Deal.”
To see the trailer for that film, please click here.