A longtime rural resident, I use my 60 plus years of life learning to opinionate here and elsewhere on the “interweb” on everything from politics to environmental issues. A believer in reasonable discourse rather than unhelpful attacks I try to give positive input to the blogesphere, so feel free to comment upon rural issues or anything else posted here. But don’t be surprised if you comments get zapped if you are not polite in your replys.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Comprehensive Vision Needed for Rural Ontario

This CFFO Commentary sums it up quite well, but who is going to form that "comprehensive team" and will any one with the power to implement change take any notice?

There are many factors that influence the shape of the countryside, but it seems that they often work at cross purposes. Provincial ministries, municipalities, and interest groups are all so busy pursuing their mandates that they end up battling each other. Is it possible that a comprehensive vision for rural Ontario would help reduce these clashes? Is it time to consider the value of having a comprehensive team establish a vision for rural Ontario?

There are many government ministries at work in rural Ontario. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs is working to provide opportunities for farmers and rural residents. The Ministry of the Environment is busy developing rules and regulations to protect our air, water, and soil resources. The Ministry of Natural Resources is safeguarding our forests and repopulating or controlling wildlife populations in the province. While there is communication between these departments, they continue to serve their own agendas, which is arguably the proper course of action as things currently stand.

Then there are the interest groups that are vying for influence with government and its different agencies. Farm groups advocate for a variety of benefits for farmers, from tax breaks to easing regulations. Some environmental groups push for firmer rules to protect water, air and wildlife while others push for reforestation and naturalization projects.

Then there are municipalities that need to find ways to provide infrastructure and services to rural residents. This growing burden creates the need for new sources of property tax revenue. Ensuring that rural schools and hospitals remain available to rural residents, attracting employment opportunities and providing the latest in communication technology highlight today’s municipal responsibilities.

All of these goals and objectives have merit to varying degrees, but where is the vision that balances these goals and works to create a thriving rural Ontario? Are we ensuring that infrastructure needs are being met? Have we considered the best way to balance increasing wildlife and forestation with a profitable agriculture industry? Have we considered the need to improve transportation and water infrastructure so that agriculture is competitive in a global marketplace, while doing so in an environmentally responsible manner?

All of these conflicting agendas point toward the lack of a cohesive vision for rural Ontario. If rural Ontario is to thrive there needs to be a bridging of the different ministries, interest groups, and municipalities to generate a comprehensive vision that balances these interests to make rural Ontario a thriving and important part of the province.

Nathan Stevens is the Research and Policy Advisor for the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario. The CFFO Commentary represents the opinions of the writer and does not necessarily represent CFFO policy.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Cooking by candlelight.

“Under the new rates announced this week, peak pricing will be 9.9¢ a kw/h beginning on May 1. The off-peak price will be 5.3¢ a kw/h. The Ontario Energy Board, responsible for setting the prices, said the increase will add $7.60 — or 8% — to the average monthly hydro bill.”

Currently I pay 5.8¢ per Kwh for the first 1,000Kwh, have been informed that the delivery charge will increase around 7% {3.3% of total bill, delivery is more than 50% of the bill} AND that HST will add a further 5%) So by my calculations if I manage to transfer ALL my hydro use to nighttime or weekends under the TOD metering I will save just 60¢ per month if I use 1000Kwh per month! (5.3 x 1.033 x 1.05 = 5.74)

If just 50% of my use is “on peak” my hydro bill will increase by abt $22 a month (9.9-5.8 x 500 x 1.033 x 1.05). With us old folks looking for bed by 9pm, not cooking a meal or doing the wash it looks like our already tight budget is going to take a shellacking once again.

It seems the incentive is not to be saving money on our hydro bill for using off peak but a substantial penalty for using it on peak. Given that non of us can totally eliminate the use of hydro before 9pm or after 7am your hydro bill is going to go up substantially and when all that “green hydro” get paid for at 400% to 800% the current PEAK rate (wind around 40¢, solar around 80¢) we will all be going back to cooking on the wood stove (something we here already do quite a bit off) and reading by candlelight!

As one who was original in favor of time of day metering (and still think the concept of shifting use to even consumption is a good plan) I am very disappointed that even major shifts in my hydro usage will not result in any saving to my wallet. I note here also that when originally proposed there were “mid peak” periods proposed that allowed some savings during less busy DAYTIME hours, this has been now eliminated!

One more thing - if I see one more report or flyers saying the price of hydro is in the 5¢ to 9¢ range I am going to sceam, its not as if I have a choice where I get it or that I can go to the generating station and get “a bucket of hydro”, the cost of hydro INCLUDES the delivery charge, the dept retirement payment, the line loss calculation, the “regulatory charges" AND the frigging TAX on it all!! That totals out to around 14c per Kwh at the CURRENT price of hydro.

Read more: http://www.nationalpost.com/news/canada/story.html?id=2917937#ixzz0lO7OfTeW

Tip of the hat to http://windconcernsontario.wordpress.com/2010/04/17/off-peak-hydro-rate-too-high-watchdog/

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Funding Priorities

Regular readers will know that I still struggle with dialup internet, even here in SW Ontario just 20 minutes from town there is no dsl, wireless is "out of range" but with the need for a tower, hardware depost and high monthly fees is out of my price range anyway. The only other option, satelite internet is then wayyyyy out of my grasp!

For a take on this from someone who's view is not coloured by the frustration of a slooooow connection see This piece from Impolitical!