Cultural Heritage Landscape Designation Hearing, Bala Falls

I was retained by the Township of Muskoka Lakes to give evidence to support the designation of three municipally owned sites in the vicinity of the Bala Falls that are important to the community. The designations were challenged by Swift River Energy who intends to develop hydro on a site adjacent to two of the properties.

The three sites are the Town Dock, the site of the former Steamship/Rail interchange and ongoing site of a 100 year continuously held regatta; the Portage Landing which is located near the falls, and has been a point of landing for natives and recreational canoists for well over 100 years; and The Shield Parking Lot, a publicly owned area that serves as the site of various community festivals and farmer's market, as well as having a large exposed rock face, a result of blasting for a highway in the 1960's that changed the nature of arrival to Bala as a recreational destination. The Pre Cambrian Shield is commemorated in this location by a provincial plaque.  

The hearing lasted for four days in early January 2013. The case is precedent setting in that it deals with cultural heritage landscape sites, the designations are to protect the sites for the community and to preserve them as places of community activity.

The Conservation Review Board agreed with the Township of Muskoka Lakes and designation of all three sites.