Hydroelectric project divides...
Hydroelectric project divides community
To view a timeline of events regarding the Bala Falls hydroelectric project, go to the Nov. 21, 2012 Bracebridge Examiner or Gravenhurst Banner, page 10 & 11 in the print editions.
BALA - Negative energy arrived in the Bala community along with the plans for the hydroelectric project.
Mike Webb, a full-time Bala resident who grew up on the Moon River, said the project has divided the community, and though he expects the rifts will be mended after the minister makes his final decision, he’s not sure.
He said despite hearing more from those against the project, not everyone is opposed to the power plant.
“It tends that the people who aren’t too worried about it either way have just remained totally non-vocal,” he said, “and the people who have been adamantly against it have been very vocal. There’s actually quite a few people I know just saying that they’re tired of the whole thing, they want it to end.”
Susan Daglish, president of the Muskoka Ratepayers Association, said the ratepayers do not support the persistent efforts of those resisting the project.
“Doing the hydroelectric plant at Bala Falls was always in government hands and the only thing the township could do was try to get the best option for the people of Bala,” Daglish said.
She said the ratepayers feel Option 2, a hydroelectric project located 100 feet from the falls and including an underground plant, park, and a viewing platform, was more tourist-friendly than the “bunker-like” Option 1, the project Swift River is currently pursuing adjacent to the falls.
Daglish said they are in favour of green energy through hydro power instead of solar or wind power, though they are disappointed the facility had to be built in Bala.
During the 2010 municipal election campaign, residents urged candidates to take a stand against the Bala Falls issue.
In Dec. 2010, Bala resident Deborah Ylanko wrote an open letter to the new Muskoka Lakes councillors voicing a long list of concerns.
“The issue at hand is not to choose between two evils — Option 1 or Option 2 — but to find a way to respect the wishes of the community,” the letter said.
There are also a number of community members who have joined Save the Bala Falls in its efforts to stop the project.
A few in the community have voiced their support of the hydroelectric project, such as Cam Mather, who has a cottage facing the falls on Moon River.
In a letter to the editor in Oct. 2010 he said he began going to Bala as a child and remembers the power station there at the time.
“The building, which was quite an attractive structure, was there until 1972. I’m not really sure why anyone would be opposed to putting a power station back where one previously stood,” the letter said.
Residents are now waiting for the final decision on the addendum from the Minister of Environment.