Hospital hoopla, dam voters, rape of North … what a week

What a week ….

Days after Doug Ford escaped escalating events at Queen’s Park, by dropping into Muskoka for a few hours, MAHC officials unveiled proposals this week to spend upwards of $400 million on their two hospitals.

A sum that when shovel-ready could reach $0.5 billion — and which a year ago they would’ve recommended be spent in Port Sydney.

Instead, the story is seven storeys — three in Huntsville, four in Bracebridge.

All this depends on Christine Elliott’s health care changes and the Ford government surviving the next three years.

If the premier’s deplorable handling of autistic kids and the OPP debacle are portents, his end is nigh.

Lost in the hospital open house hoopla was how they would fit into Muskoka being a new model for integrated home-based patient care and services, such as was being studied separately more than a year ago.

And if Ford divides the district into North Muskoka and South Muskoka, why should one support the other?

That would make it tricky for cottagers, the more well-heeled and generous of which stop short of those lakes in the north.

Ford’s cottage is on Fawn Lake in Port Sydney — where he was all set to go sledding — so he should have to choose between donating to SMMH or HDMH.

But, in between a Westside Fish and Chips lunch in Huntsville and a spaghetti supper at the Bracebridge legion, Ford said he would continue to support both sites when it comes to the province’s 90 per cent capital share of renovating or rebuilding the primary care facilities. A promise he made when he got elected in June.

Dam voters …

On another promise he made and broke to electors in Bala, West Muskoka and Muskoka Lakes he was adamant as well.

Damn the voters, swift speed ahead, he re-iterated in reference to not stopping a hydro project on the Moon River.

The Muskoka file is proving problematic for the premier.

Despite the lukewarm efforts of his parliamentary assistant Norm Miller.

Don’t take this rock for granite …

Meanwhile, Skeleton Lake residents and cottagers are another headache.

Skeleton Lake’s unique character is being threatened say opponents of a granite-crushing rock quarry proposed for the pristine water body west of Utterson.

They lost another round in their two-year battle with southern colonialists who continue their xenophobic history of raping The North while leaving open sores on the land, a mining legacy since Confederation.

Barrie developer Frank Pippa’s plan for a granite quarry just northwest of Utterson got a repreive Friday, March 8, when a  judge dismissed Ross Earl’s motion to dismiss the Lippa appeals.

See full details of decision here.
Opponents cite noise, operations dust, 100 trucks a day, and damage to the unique lake, which would cause the loss of peaceful enjoyment of their properties.

“While the tribunal denied the motion and was disappointing to opponents of the massive land grab, all sides are satisfied with the outcome, according to the ‘Stop Muskoka Pit’ website.

“However, all parties, including the applicants, agree that a further Official Plan Amendment Application is required to address the issue of both Lambert’s Lake and Mud Lake being within two kilometres of the proposed rock crushing operation, which is prohibited by the Township of Muskoka Lakes Official Plan.

“This is good news for us because it recognizes the significance of the issue, and we are well-positioned to fight this new application,” says an email from the group.

Both Muskoka Lakes and Huntsville councils opposed the quarry.

The 250-member Skeleton Lake Cottagers Organization (SLCO), too, is opposed and has a hired heavyweight consultant on its side.

Former Ontario environmental commissioner Gord Miller was asked to peer review the quarry’s own expert studies.

While he said the quarry won’t poison the water, phosphorous discharge from the mining operation will effect one of the cleanest and clearest in Ontario, which connects to Lake Muskoka and Lake Rosseau.

Skeleton Lake is recognized as being created by a meteor strike, which explains its depth and jagged rocks. And unlike most Ontario lakes, Skeleton’s water contains virtually no mercury, because of a limestone crust on the lake bottom.

Miller said chemical loading will alter its biology and fauna, as phosphorous loading from substances such as fertilizer is associated with algae growth and considered a problem for many recreational lakes.

The proponent also claims the aggreate is necessary for local use in growth.

But with oppositiont to Muskoka lakes developmentment also on table, that’s a story for another day.