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Voyageurs' Blog

Batchawana Island Info Meeting Comments

Posted: July 07, 2017 by Frank O'Connor

Thank You Mr. Acheson, and Mr. Cormier for hosting this public information meeting about your development plans. Welcome to our neighbourhood. As the owners of the Batchawana Island, you represent the largest tenant around the Bay.
My comments today are in reference to the location and placement of the mainland industrial dock facility near the mouth of the Carp River, and the associated commercial shipping traffic that will occur infront of Batchawana Beach, the Narrows, and the lower Batchawana Bay.
I would like to reflect on the notion of economic progress or economic development as it is sometimes referred to as. We are often asked, Is economic progress always a good thing? At first the answer seems obvious – Why certainly! Economic progress means the creation of new jobs, it means finding new and better ways of doing things, it means creating wealth and thereby improving the standard of living of all those around, it means increased competition and better pricing and quality of products for consumers. What is not to like?
And then on the flip side one may ask – but at what cost? What if the costs associated with that progress are too risky? What if the economic benefits do not outweigh the social, cultural, and environmental costs that result from that economic activity?
What if the economic progress in question means that there is the potential for habitat along a shoreline or in a river mouth to be jeopardized? That spawning rainbow trout, salmon, and smelt will change their natural course of activity because something very strange has happened along their shoreline leading up to their river. Would that be a good thing?
What if economic progress means that your neighbours in the area, immediately beside you, folks who have spent their whole life and financial savings building retirement homes and cottages so that they can enjoy life on a lake, have that tranquil experience destroyed. No more loons at dawn, no watching an eagle take flight, no beavers or otters swimming along the shore. Their aesthetic experience of camp life will certainly be diminished. And how about from a purely financial point of view. What if their land values, driven down by weakened demand in the marketplace, results in overall lower selling prices, and they are unable to recoup their costs at the time they wish to sell. Is economic progress good if that were to happen?
If economic progress means that a 4 km stretch of Ontario Parks beach, one of the top 10 ranked beaches in the province, is now littered with bark and debris from passing barges carrying logs and heavy logging equipment – is that a good thing? Worse yet, what if the hundreds and possibly thousands of people, families and children, who swim, play, canoe, kayak, water ski, and wind surf in those same waters now have to be very aware of commercial shipping traffic in their path – is that a good thing? And in their reckless abandon of having fun and playing in a carefree manner on the water, what if one of those individuals were to mistakenly collide with this commercial watercraft? Is this a good thing?
Mr. Acheson and Mr. Cormier, if the economic progress project in question were to negatively impact on an established tourist resort operation that has been in existence since 3 years prior to Canada’s Centennial year is that a good thing? If it were to lose customers because the value of their guests’ lake view has been diminished, if it were to lose sales because the roar of diesel engines at 6am just is not very appealing to its guests, and if patrons just stopped eating dinner there and having a stroll on the beach afterwards because well you know – it is just not the same anymore – is that economic progress a good thing. And worse yet, if the 50 seasonal jobs that exist there were to be compromised because of this other industrial economic activity – are we ok with that?
My dear friends, neighbours, and fellow Bay people – the north shore of Lake Superior around Batchawana Bay is a recreational and cottage living region. Every piece of shoreline around this bay is occupied by families who want to live and enjoy “Life on the Lake”. Some refer to it as the Haunted Shore, some refer to it as a magical and mythical place. One of my guests, who visits the entire Batchawana Bay area every year, and patronizes all of our tourist businesses, is from Atlanta Georgia. This is what he wrote on my facebook page. And to preface his comments, he is completely unaware of what is happening here.
I live in Atlanta – the center of the economic development hurricane – it is pure madness – pure craziness – I’d rather be enjoying the haunting song of the Loons and the sounds of the waves lapping on the shoreline of Lake Superior. Bachawana Bay is my escape from all the madness of places like Atlanta.
If this visitor’s escape is removed or diminished because of economic progress, I am wondering out loud – is this a good thing?
Gentlemen, I am asking you to please consider conducting your logging operation by utilizing the Port of Algoma in Sault Ste. Marie. An industrial port and harbour site designed for industrial activity such as yours. That would be very neighbourly of you.
Thank you