Bala Falls update: Judge rules against Save the Bala Falls bid to stop lease

(December 24, 2015 2pm BREAKING NEWS) Bracebridge Justice Tom Wood has ruled against a Save the Bala Falls application for an injunction that would have stopped a potential Township lease to developer Swift River Energy Limited from proceeding.

In his written decision released today, the justice found the Save the Bala Falls argument flawed and stated:

“In conclusion I find that the Township of Muskoka Lakes has the authority to enter into the proposed lease, that it has exercised that authority in an appropriate manner, and that on balance to do so would be in the interest of the municipality. The application is therefore dismissed.”

To read decision and reasons for the decision, click on the link: Decision_and_Reasons_Wood_J__-_Dec_24__2015

The next step is for the parties involved to submit what they want in costs or to arrange a date to argue costs. Lawyers for the parties could not be reached today for comment, and it’s not known whether Save the Bala Falls might appeal the judgment from the Superior Court of Justice. If the lease is approved by Township council, the developer has said it will leave Margaret Burgess Park on north side of Bala Falls open for public use during the construction period.

(December 22 Update) As of today, there is still no word from a Bracebridge judge on whether Save the Bala Falls will get its injunction to stop the Township from proceeding with a lease with hydro developer Swift River Energy Limited that would allow Margaret Burgess Park to remain open. There were few decisions made as a result of two cases being heard in relation to Township of Muskoka Lakes issues last Monday (December 14, 2015). Justice Tom Wood said he would deliver a decision regarding the injunction sought by Save the Bala Falls against lease of Township land but did not say when that ruling would be delivered. Read Bracebridge Examiner Brent Cooper’s report “Judge to Rule on Bala Falls lease” by clicking here.

As for Brent versus Nishikawa, the judge agreed a portion of Muskoka Lakes Councillor Ruth Nishikawa’s affidavit will be sealed as it could deal with closed session municipal information. The rest of this case will be heard at an undetermined time in Barrie. Related article: “Muskoka Lakes councillor to get portion of affidavit sealed” by the Bracebridge Examiner.

(December 14, 2015 7:45am BRACEBRIDGE) Township of Muskoka Lakes lawyers are doing double duty in Bracebridge court today. They are up against Save the Bala Falls (STBF), fighting a proposed injunction which could seal the fate of Margaret Burgess Park. If STBF is successful stopping township from issuing a lease for the developer to use township land and parking lots, Swift River Energy Limited (SREL) says it will close the park. Last week SREL began clearing trees on the Bala Falls hydro site.

In the other court action, lawyers for Councillor Ruth Nishikawa will seek adjournment and have her affidavit sealed in Ron Brent’s defamation case against her.

Photo shows all that’s left after tree cutting on hydro site at north Bala Falls last Wednesday. Photo by Norah Fountain

Cottage destroyed by fire in Bala

(December 18, 9pm) Neighbours say they heard what sounded like a “rumbling explosion” before they saw flames in a fire that burned a guest cottage to the ground on River Street in Bala.

Here is the official report from Township of Muskoka Lakes fire:

At approximately 2:15 p.m., while on patrol, an O.P.P. officer from the Bracebridge Detachment observed smoke coming from River Street in Bala. The officer summoned the Township of Muskoka Lakes Fire Department, however, upon the fire department’s arrival, the small cottage on Bala cottage fireMoon River was totally engulfed with flames. Three stations and approximately 20 firefighters worked on the fire, but unfortunately, the cottage was totally destroyed. There were no injuries.

There was no one home, as the owner was visiting family at the time. Damage is estimated at approximately $130,000. The owner is insured.

The cause of the blaze is still under investigation.

Province brings Track My Plow program to Muskoka

(December 15, 9:30am HUNTSVILLE) Ontario is expanding the ‘Track My Plow’ program to the province’s Huntsville maintenance contract area. The Huntsville maintenance contract area includes highways in Muskoka and parts of the Parry Sound and Haliburton regions.

This new tracking program is an online portal that allows the public to track snowplows on provincial highways in the area.

The new program, which has already been launched in the Owen Sound and Simcoe County areas and which will expand to other parts of the province in the future, is one way the province is keeping drivers informed about winter weather and road conditions. Other resources include:

  • The Ministry of Transportation’s website and Twitter feed that provide information on preparing for winter travel, driving safely in winter conditions and on Ontario’s winter maintenance standards.
  • 511 Traveller Information Services that offers information about Ontario’s provincially maintained highways, including time-stamped information about road closures and winter road conditions. The public can also call 511 for information on current road conditions or follow 511 on Twitter @511Ontario.

This year, 511 Traveller Information Services has introduced several new enhancements, including:

  • region-specific bilingual Twitter accounts to help travellers get more accurate reporting for their specific areas
  • 140 more cameras to provide online users with more sight lines to better assess winter road conditions
  • more accurate road condition reporting that includes a detailed date/time stamp that indicates when the condition was observed
  • a mobile-friendly site, allowing easier access to current information on an electronic device

According to a provincial release today, ensuring that Ontario’s roads remain among the safest in North America is part of the government’s plan to build Ontario up. The release states the four-part plan includes investing in people’s talents and skills, making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario’s history, creating a dynamic, innovative environment where business thrives, and building a secure retirement savings plan


  • The Huntsville maintenance contract area includes highways in Muskoka and parts of the Parry Sound and Haliburton regions.
  • The Huntsville area has a total of 46 pieces of equipment viewable on Track My Plow.
  • Ontario roads consistently rank among the safest in North America.
  • The Office of the Auditor General of Ontario released the Report on Winter Highway Maintenance on April 29, 2015.
  • In response to the Auditor General’s report, the Government of Ontario released its Winter Maintenance Action Plan to address all of the report’s recommendations.


Thomas Lustvee, charged in high speed chase and fire, reported dead

(UPDATE December 9, 2015 8:30am) Sources say Thomas Lustvee, charged in connection with a fire and high speed chase police said were connected, has died. St. Thomas police had been looking for Lustvee after he went missing from a group home where he was to live after being released from jail on Saturday. Now there is word he has passed away. There are no further details. The original story of his arrest follows below.

Police find owner of silver pickup sought after fire gutted Baldwin Road home

(Updated Photo April 9) The investigation continues into a fire that destroyed a Baldwin Road home and a high speed chase linked to the blaze. Police and investigators were on the scene Thursday but police said there was nothing new to add. The investigator was waiting to speak to the estranged wife of Thomas Lustvee, who is the owner of the silver Dodge Ram that was reported as fleeing from police about an hour after the fire was well under way after midnight on April 7.

Featured photo of aftermath of fire by Norah Fountain

(UPDATE April 8) Police report they’ve found the man connected to the Silver Dodge pick-up truck that had been involved in a suspect apprehension pursuit that occurred on Highway 11 in Oro-Medonte at approximately 1:38 a.m. the same morning a Baldwin Road home in the Ziska Road area of Muskoka Lakes burned to the ground.

(April 7, 3:45pm MUSKOKA LAKES) Members of the Bracebridge Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) are searching for the driver of a silver pickup truck in hopes the person can shed light on an early morning blaze in Muskoka Lakes.

Baldwin Road home destroyed by fire
Flames were first noticed just after midnight. Submitted photo courtesy of Muskoka Lakes Fire department.

Submitted photo courtesy of the Muskoka Lakes Fire Department.

The truck is owned by 58-year-old Thomas Lustvee of Muskoka Lakes, whom neighbours say had been living in the Baldwin Road home gutted by fire this morning.

The Muskoka Area Crime Unit and the Office of the Fire Marshall are currently investigating the fire that destroyed the home at 1101 Baldwin Road in the Township of Muskoka Lakes (in the Ziska Road area). The blaze happened at about 12:30 this morning (April 7, 2015).  Muskoka Lakes Fire Department called police shortly after being dispatched to a fully engulfed structure fire. The residence is about a half a mile in from the road.

Police say they want to speak with the operator of a Silver Dodge pick-up truck that was involved in a suspect apprehension pursuit by Barrie police that occurred on Highway 11 in Oro-Medonte about an hour after the fire began.

The vehicle is a 2005 Silver Dodge Ram pick-up truck bearing Ontario Marker 3446YJ. It is registered to Lustvee.

Police are asking anyone with information about this vehicle or related parties to please contact Bracebridge OPP at 705-645-2211 or 1-888-310-1122.

Related Articles:

April 7, CTV: High speed chase connected to fire: OPP

Muskoka Lakes Preschool wins for Christmasy creativity

(December 6 7pm BALA RELEASE from BALA IN BLOOM) Bala In Bloom and the Muskoka Lakes Chamber of Commerce say a huge “Thank You” to the individuals, families, and companies who participated in our 1st Annual Christmas Pole Décor activity. It was a huge success and we look forward to even more participation next year!

Everyone is to be congratulated on their creativity ~ Annie’s Cafe & Deli, Bala Garden Centre, Bala in Bloom, Bala United Church, Beckie, Matt and Rhody, Councillors Currie, Nishikawa and Kruckel, Graham Family, Muskoka Lakes Chamber of Commerce, Muskoka Lakes Preschool, Overboard, Royal Canadian Legion Bala Branch 424, Royal LePage Lakes of Muskoka, TD Bank, Trinity St. Alban’s Anglican Church, Trish Cowie & Ronan Pringle, Vickers Family, Twig, Weismiller Lumber & Ice Dreams for their $100 donation to Muskoka Food Bank in lieu of a decoration.

A special shout out to the teachers and students at Muskoka Lakes Preschool, who received a $50 cheque from Bala in Bloom for being “most creative.” The competition was fierce and we’d also like to acknowledge Overboard, Royal LePage Lakes of Muskoka, and Weismiller’s for their outstanding Christmas displays.