Barrister & Solicitor | Integrity Commissioner


Township of Muskoka Lakes v. Ontario (Minister of Natural Resources)


Muskoka/Parry Sound/Haliburton


Heritage Conservation, Judicial Review, Renewable Energy, Shoreline Development


Ontario Superior Court of Justice – Divisional Court


The Township sought judicial review of the Minister of Natural Resource’s decision to issue a section 28 order prohibiting the use by the public of Crown land adjacent to the Bala Falls. The MNR was prepared to lease the lands to Swift River Energy Ltd. to develop the site for hydroelectric power. The Township sought the following declarations, orders and relief: (1) declaring that a portage protected by section 65(4) of the Public Lands Act passes over the site; (2) prohibiting the Minister or any other person from interfering with that portage; (3) setting aside the water frontage at the Site for recreational purposes and access purposes pursuant to section 3 of the Public Lands Act; and (4) prohibiting any interference with that frontage.


Application dismissed


The Township has failed to establish that the Ministry’s decision to issue a Notice under s. 28 was unreasonable such that it could invoke our right to interfere with it under the court’s judicial review authority. There can be no reasonable dispute that there are safety issues concerning these lands that include rapids, waterfalls and dams among other hazards. It may be that there were other alternatives to address those safety concerns but the fact that the Ministry chose between different options does not constitute their decision to adopt one option over another as unreasonable.