The Township of Muskoka Lakes has turned down an offer for voluntarily paid fines at the Bala Falls project.

At the committee of the whole meeting yesterday, councillors were considering taking Swift River Energy up on an offer that would have seen the company pay daily fines for working past 9:00pm in a bid to get critical work done before Christmas. The amounts would have started at $1000 on the first day and climb incrementally to a maximum of $5000.

Instead, says the new mayor of Muskoka Lakes Township, the fines will be the set amount of the existing bylaw, $150 per day for each offence.

“The perspective is we are going to be enforcing the bylaws as they exist today,” confirms Harding.

Recently Swift Energy has been running up to three shifts a day going into the early hours of the morning.

He says the decision is meant to send a message to anyone hoping to buy their way past existing noise and construction bylaws.

“So we’re not saying that any fine is appropriate,” explains Harding. “You can’t buy development. What we’re saying is they need to stick to our bylaws and construction must stop at 9:00pm.”

A resolution was put on the table to allow some variations of the existing noise and construction bylaw that included some compensation to the town for the inconvenience. Ultimately council turned down that proposal.

Essentially a bylaw officer would investigate after receiving a complaint. If there was merit to the complaint a charge could be laid and the $150 fine levied. Complaints to the bylaw office must be done through the town website or in person, though there is an after-hours answering service.

Swift Energy began working past the 9:00pm daily cut-off last week and residents are frustrated. The company has made it clear they are hoping to run extra shifts until December 23rd.

A spokesperson for Swift Energy says they just want to get lake bed excavation done before Christmas so residents can enjoy some quiet over the holidays.