Canada Day Fireworks (NOT) in Bala Falls--Public Events Prohibited by Hydro Developer in Public Park
Catherine Nasmith | July 3, 2015
|Margaret Burgess Park, Photo Liz Lundell||From the Moon River, Liz Lundell photo|
For 5 years the Moon River Property Owners Association MROPA has held a summer picnic in Bala to celebrate life on the Moon River on the weekend closest to Canada Day. The event includes a big Canada Day cake, games and just generally hanging out with neighbours. The event was scheduled for July 4, but has been cancelled.
Two days before the event was scheduled to go ahead, and all arrangements had been made, Swift River Energy Limited (SREL), the company who is the proponent for the hydro project at the Bala Falls sent a notice to the organizers telling them they don’t have permission to use Margaret Burgess Park in this way, and that if they do the OPP will be called in and picnicers arrested for trespassing. Are you kidding me you might ask? It’s a public park??
So far no one can answer how it is that SREL can claim such control over public access to the provincially owned, but municipally run park next to the North Bala Falls.
Members of Save the Bala Falls who will also be holding a FUNdraiser in Bala this Saturday, have been warned they can’t wear their red t shirts in Don’s Bakery, for fear the landlords will evict the long standing business for supporting a cause.
It gets worse. On Friday, July 3, at a special meeting of Muskoka Lakes Council to deal with a routine planning matter that was being treated on an emergency basis; in spite of a standing room only audience of angry, largely grey and white-haired booing ratepayers who were looking forward to a little fun at the falls and wanted a chance to hear from their Council what was going on -- two motions to hear deputations regarding public access to Margaret Burgess park were defeated.
The meeting was recessed twice by Mayor Don Furness.
The crowd took advantage of the breaks to read their deputations to each other….from MROPA,
“As in previous years, we have a huge Canadian flag birthday cake and cupcakes and ice cream. We invite the entire community, have music, and last year our MP Tony Clement attended and played his guitar. And we sang along. We stand tall as we sing ‘Oh Canada’ to honour our ‘true north strong and free’.
It is a fun, family-oriented, free event. All are invited and welcome. There are no politics, no issues, and no fundraising -- other than asking people to bring a non-perishable food item, which we donate to the West Muskoka food bank.” Sounds pretty dangerous to me!
The group will be out of pocket and wanted answers, but there were none forthcoming.
ACO Muskoka has also asked permission for a picnic on August 8 with tours of local heritage sites, they also want to know how or whether SREL can rescind permission already sought and agreed to by local officials.
At the end of the lone item on the agenda, the Mayor adjourned the meeting, having called the OPP in case this aged crowd really got ugly….The crowd stood and sang Oh Canada as the Mayor stormed out the back entrance to the Council chamber. By the time the anthem was done an OPP officer was at the door, and another cruiser pulling into the parking lot. Sensibly, no arrests!
Sad, comic, ridiculous but it really happened.
Picnicers are a danger to public safety in Bala, Ontario. Really??