Opponents of a hydroelectric project in Bala are frustrated at Premier Doug Ford.

Save the Bala Falls is a group that has been opposing the hydroelectric project at Bala Falls for years, and as the construction enters its final year, they are looking to Premier Doug Ford to kill it completely. The project is located where Lake Muskoka flows into Moon River.

While campaigning earlier this year, Ford made a promise to Muskoka Lake residents that he would quote “drill down and find out who is part of the big scam.”

According to a member of the group trying to block the project, there are problems on a couple of fronts. Mitchell Shnier, who has a seasonal residence in the area, says there is a huge safety issue when water is released from the dam up to 21 times per summer and also the public will be overpaying for the electricity produced to the tune of $100 million over the forty years of the contract.

“We can show how the province can save literally billions of dollars by fixing the Liberal’s energy mess they have created over the last fifteen years,” explains Shnier.

The safety issue arises from modelling that shows potentially large releases downstream to the Moon River where Shnier says there is a very popular in-water recreation area. “They (Swift River Energy)  are saying they will figure out safety later,” says Shnier.

Vice President of Development Nhung Nguyen counters this statement, saying “I want to reassure the public that safety is our company’s top priority. Safety is also an important part of the oversight the province of Ontario provides on projects like ours.” Nguyen goes on to say that the safety plan is an ongoing document that is constantly going through governmental review.

While Shnier praises Premier Ford for keeping a number of his election promises, he fears this might be one that falls by the wayside.

Shnier says they would like to sit down with people within the premier’s office and show how they could cancel the project without risking lawsuits or large buyouts. When pressed for examples of how that would work Shnier would only say “there are a series of things we would need to talk to the government about first.”