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.

Friday, December 29, 2017

The Canadian Lifeboat

A recent reply to Owen over at Northern Reflections by one Steve go me thinking (always a dangerous undertaking) and my thoughts being far too extensive to reply to that post I will try and assemble my thoughts here. Nothing I say here in anyway reflects upon that conversation although it was fodder for this post and I hope that I can disagree with some of the opinions expressed with the same respect for each others views as these two individuals.

Firstly here are the responses from Steve that grabbed my attention.....

“Things have changed. We should be looking at our country as a lifeboat. If we want more displaced persons we have to be engineered to take more passengers without capsizing the boat.
Right now we have a housing crisis. Until this is solved why would we bring more people to live here?”

“I know its not popular but nation building IMHO is a better way. I propose we put our efforts into goverment in a box. This is a software package just like any ERP the leading companies used but designed for goverment. In the case of Hati being self sufficient in food is a easy task. For other places including our first nations, container food is the way forward. Third container housing with solar panels, composting toilets and rain collection.
If we have the capacity for these people, why dont we have the capacity for my children?”

First of all whilst there are many places on this planet of ours where the lifeboat is not only in danger of sinking but far too many where folks are already underwater and more drowning on a daily basis. Whilst it is impossible to save them all, and some that who are busy shoving the less buoyant under who should perhaps not be supported, we cannot IMHO not rescue as many as possible within our ability to sustain them however briefly. It is a difficult discussion as there are far more displaced persons than any one country can help, or indeed than 'civilized' (as opposed to warring) nations can succor!

As for 'capsizing OUR boat' we are a long way from that, the biggest problem I see is that far too many passengers both established and recent/ want to crowd into (mostly) one end of the boat, namely Toronto!! (or perhaps better expressed 'our larger urban centers'). This vast country of ours has lots of capacity to accommodate both our own growing population and many newcomers, the problem is that infrastructure, services, and employment opportunities are increasingly being 'centralized' in larger urban areas in the name of 'efficiency' which in my mind is part of the problem. This city-centric thinking by both industry and government is unlikely to change anytime soon.

Moving on, “In the case of Hati being self sufficient in food is a easy task. For other places including our first nations, container food is the way forward. “ OH lord Steve, where do I start? Whilst I have no first hand knowledge of the Haiti situation I do recognize that it is far from simple, they may well be in a climate where under normal circumstances they can be largely self sufficient so far as crops are concerned and from what I have read they hardly can be faulted for being 'wasteful' with their other resources. When ALL is destroyed returning to any measure of self sufficiency is hardly 'easy'!
“container food is the way forward.” Its hard to tell exactly what is meant by this particularly when linked to a particular community, is this referring to the method of getting the food TO the community or to a method of GROWING the food within the community, either way again its not that simple and if if the solution works for one segment of our nation it should work for all! I invite “Steve” to expand upon what he meant by this statement.

Finally “Third container housing with solar panels, composting toilets and rain collection.” I have no argument with this basic concept and so many folks are moving towards more 'self sufficient' systems within their own households as are a number of communities, particularly in rural or remote places. Whilst the 'up front' costs make it largely impossible for lower income individuals to move in this direction the ever reducing prices of equipment and the availability of 'contract' installations are having a positive impact upon the move away from less desirable systems. Prefabricated 'container' housing may be a way for some less affluent communities but such units are not affordable for many who are currently living in 'substandard' housing for by the time they are built to 'modern' standards the cost is prohibitive for far too many folks. I know somewhat all about this having lived for many years in a 'mobile home' which today would not be considered 'allowable' for a year round residence, not perhaps luxurious but better than the alternative when times are tight.

Steve, you said “If we have the capacity for these people, why dont we have the capacity for my children?” If you are having difficulty feeding your children or finding employment for the older ones then I very much feel for you having been in that situation many times in my life, however blaming others for 'taking away your job' or trying to do what they must to feed their family is non productive and futile. I wish you and all my readers a happy and prosperous new year and a stress free 2018.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

More beuracratic BS

Ontario wildlife rehabilitation centres are growing increasingly frustrated with the provincial ministry that governs their activities. In particular, the rehab workers are discouraged by the inability to appeal rulings made by the ministry.
Ontario Wildlife Rescue, an organization that represents Ontario's rehabilitation centres, says an increasing number of rehab centres in Ontario have shut down in the past 10 years because they can't work with what they believe are increasingly unrealistic requests from the government. There's growing tension between the rehab centres and the MNRF, which is responsible for wildlife management and public safety.
Sandy Donald, a spokesperson for Ontario Wildlife Rescue, said officials have also told rehab centres that they can't take pictures of wildlife. The MNRF said in a response that photography isn't completely banned, but should be limited because it could "counter" the rehabilitation process. As well, Mr. Donald said the MNRF refused to allow the use of surrogate parents to raise orphaned wildlife, saying that these orphaned animals should be released or euthanized instead.
Mr. Donald said that "almost all these centres are run by volunteers. If you're spending a chunk of your time fighting a rearguard action against the ministry, at a certain point, you go 'enough's enough.'" He said that there used to be 200 rehabilitation centres in Ontario, but there are now around 60. The decrease in centres comes despite a rise in demand for medical treatment for wildlife, which rehab workers said is caused by increasing urban development.
Among the growing number of rehabilitation centres throwing in the towel, Ms. Beechey (of Tillsonburg, Ont., wildlife rehab centre} said that she, too, is ready to close up shop if she can't get the right to appeal the ministry's decisions.
The above extracted from the full article here.....

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Growth Beyond Cities

As I subscribe to the Rural Ontario Institute news feeds I get occational links to their recent reports on rural issues the moast recent being the Rural Ontario Foresight Papers which discusses a wide range of issues from rural growth to econimic issues to broadband infastructure.

I wont even atempt to sumerize the content of this 130 page “paper” which typicaly for acedemic reports goes on at great lenth to say what can be said in a much more readable lenth but non the less highlights a number of rural issues. That said here are a couple of extracts from the report which perhaps show the diffrent perspective rural and urban folks have on some important issues.

Renewable Energy and Rural Electricity
In recent years, Ontario has invested vast sums of money in renewable energy. At the same time, there has been a significant consolidation of power supply in the province, with most small municipal elect ricity systems being absorbed by Hydro One and electricity rates being harmonized across the province. In this process, electricity costs have sky -rocketed for many rural customers. This reflects much higher delivery charges, as well as higher cost generation. Ironically, renewable energy is far more likely to be generated in rural areas than was the case for coal or oil -fired power stations, which were sited close to cities. Now a rural household next to a large wind generation site may have an electricity bill much larger than an urban dweller for the same quantity of electricity because of large transmission and distribution charges, even though the urban household is hundreds of kilometers further away from the place the power was produced. Further, rural households have less scope for reducing their electricity bill. The existing rural housing stock is older, household incomes are lower, there is less op portunity for switching to gas and new, better -insulated homes are not being built. The result is a growing incidence of fuel poverty, especially in northern Ontario where more homes are heated with electricity and winters are long. Moreover, businesses in rural areas tend to be major electricity users, because the service sector is less important, and high electricity prices are affecting their ability to be competitive. The result is a provincial policy that has placed a disproportionate burden on rural citizens and regions.

I note that recent decisions by the current Ontario govenment have substantialy reduced rural home owner hydro costs however there may be a substantial price to pay later for these reductions acording to some observers.

Gasoline Taxes and Rural Households
Cars in rural areas are a more of a necessity than is the case in a city where public transit or taxi services are readily available. For a low - income rural household, operating a car is a major share of their household bud get. A major element of this cost is the price of gasoline. High provincial taxes on gasoline are justified, in part, as a way to fund public transit systems and encourage their use, and to reduce emissions associated with congested urban roads. Rural residents pay these taxes but do not have access to public transit and rarely experience congested highways. To be sure, rural residents tend to have relatively long distance commutes from their place of residence to work because in rural labour markets jobs are typically not available in close proximity to where they live. While they tend to drive more miles in a year than city residents, most of this travel is part of rural life where stores, schools, public services and jobs are dispersed. Gasoline taxes also fund roads and this use is clearly beneficial for rural residents, but perhaps some other form of tax might be a fairer way to address the problems of urban congestion

It must be pointed out that there is a substantial difference between 'in town' rural and 'out of town' rural on this issue, particularly for those for whom there are no alternatives to reliable vehicle ownership and such is a necessity not an option.

Access to Health Care by Rural Citizens
Dealing with rising healthcare costs and a growing number of older people are major challenges for the provincial government. In rural areas the problem is especially acute because aging is taking place at a faster rate and the population is widely dispersed making it more expensive to deliver health services. Moreover, the presence of a hospital in a commu nity, just like the presence of a high school, is a significant factor influencing economic attractiveness and quality of life. Places that lose these essential services become less desirable locations for firms and households. A big challenge is the trad e- off between ready access, which requires a large network of hospitals to allow proximity, and the lower cost of operating a smaller number of larger facilities that can capture economies of scale and that have higher utilization rates. Hospital consolidation, like school consolidation, imposes longer travel costs on users. Thus, part of the saving for the province from consolidation is offset by higher travel costs for citizens. In the case of health care , these costs can involve worse health outcomes, as well as additional monetary costs, if it takes too long to get to a treatment centre. For example, the large new regional hospital in St. Catharines offers more advanced care than was available previously at the old smaller hospitals in the Niagara Region . But, for the more remote part of the southern portion of the Region, the resulting loss of easy access to local hospitals has led to much greater travel distances, which makes it possible that access to health care is now worse than in the past. For people in the distant north, where roads are limited in number and distances are large, access to emergency health care is a particular challenge.

Health services are increasingly being 'consolidated' and 'centralized' and whilst basic services can in most cases be found 'locally' the specialization of many such services often necessitate a trip to distant urban 'heath centres'.

The ever increasing proportion of urban dwellers to rural residents will no doubt continue to increase the need for those rural residents to travel to or move to urban areas to receive services previously available localy. Are those who chose to avoid the big cities going to become second class citizens I wonder?

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Grey Bruce Area Heath Care

This year has been a bit traumatic for both myself and some other family members health wise, non of us had previously not had much to do with hospitals and associated heath services till this year so it was mostly a learning experience. Being aware of horror stories detailing waits of many hours to get attended to I wish to tell the other side of the story that we have experienced in recent months.

In my own case, as briefly mentioned in a previous post back in May I had a stroke and it was touch and go there for a bit (or so I am told, I was out of it) and whilst there is little doubt that the emergency staff and doctors who treated me in those first few hours saved my life it is the nursing staff and other 'health professionals' I am going to highlight in this article. Whilst the Doctors no doubt have a large amount of input into ones care it is the nurses and other 'health professionals' that provide the hands on care and interact with us when we need care, my experience with these folks have, with very few exceptions, been outstanding! Not only was the actual nursing care in the ICU provided in a competent, caring and (most important and under rated quality) friendly manner and the same was true of the various heath advisors who visited during my recovery, the recovery assessors, dietary and lifestyle information specialists and so on. In hospital is not a place where any of us (particularity those previously healthy, or so I thought) wish to be but apart from being challenged by the food choices (I am a vegetarian which it turned out was a good thing as I lost several pounds which I actually needed to loose during the stay) it was not a bad experience considering the circumstances. I am howeverglad that I had a quick, almost miraculous recovery and was able to come directly home after leaving the ICU.

After this scare and having not seen a family doctor for many years we then went looking for someone to fill this role. Having 'regestered' with the Markdale South East Grey Community Health Centre a couple of years ago but never having gone any further (not having needed their services till now) we made an apointmet to see one of their 'Nurse Practitioners' and were pleasently surprised to learn that they held a 'clinic' at the nearby Chatsworth Township office two days a week. After recieving care and advice from the NP and Nurse at said clinic for severak months now I am pleased to report that we could not have found a better couple of proffesionals to attend to our medical needs. The friendly and accomidating staff have made an otherwise stressfull situation almost pleasant which given my record of avoiding doctors and check ups is quite something!

A cousin has had a similar experience with the VON nursing organization, receiving care and advice several times a week in her own home in Wiarton regarding problems arising from a past minor injury turned septic and poor circulation. Needing additional treatment she was referred to the Tobermoury Hyperbaric facility where she received intense but similar friendly and outstanding care over a number of weeks. Perhaps I was put off by stories of long waits and seemingly uncaring assessments told by others who attending a hospital emergency department but our experience with these particular heath professionals has been has been nothing but good. I do note here that unless one identifies an urgent situation or is already receiving ongoing care it is often hard to see a doctor or NP in a timely manner, typical appointments can be weeks or even months ahead, even longer if referred to a 'specialist', my thought has always been 'if I can wait for weeks to come see you then perhaps I do not need to see you at all!'. A little cynical perhaps and given recent history I SHOULD have made that move several years ago, a near death experience can result in a change in perspective eh!

Whilst I will not identify the particular individuals I have spoken about in this post I would like to give the following heath care professionals a hearty thanks and a 'well done and keep up the good work'. You know who you are........

Thanks to
The nursing and support staff at the Owen Sound ICU unit.
The South East Grey Community Health Centre Nurses and Nurse Practitioners and staff.
The Victorian Order of Nurses Grey Bruce Nurses and support staff
The Tobermoury Hyperbaric Facility Doctor and staff.

PS. Yes I am fully recovered and my cousin is making good progress.

Monday, June 26, 2017

At The Bird Feeder .....

Its been a while since I have posted anything, having a stroke tends to slow one down and change your priorities I find, Still I was 'lucky' and have very few lasting effects and am now able to function fairly normaly again.
What encouraged me to write a bit today was our first sighting of both our male AND female Red Bellied Woodpeckers at our window feeder. The Male has been around for around 5 years and whilst very shy at first and barely providing us with an occasional glimpse gradually became used to us and eventually became a daily visitor, we had not however seen a female until a glimpse of her last year. We think perhaps that they raised a young one but cannot be sure, perhaps this year we will have better luck in that regard as the female is now recently visiting the feeder regularly also. (We presume having just finished sitting and now feeding young?)
Being on what was the northern edge of their range we are very pleased to confirm we have a pair here and hope before I finish this post to provide photo (and possibly video) proof of their presence from our webcam that sits just a few inches away from the feeder inside our window. Meanwhile our usual collection of other woodpeckers (Hairy, Downy) continue to keep us busy refilling the feeder helped in particular by the flush of newly hatched Grosbeaks and our usual collection of red & white Nuthatches (hard to tell the young from the regulars with that lot!)
In other places we have a pair of Phoebes nesting in the peak of our roof above the back door and Robin raising the third, or is that the fourth, clutch of youngsters in our pear tree just outside our back door, the House Wren busy telling us that she has young ones over by our wildflower garden and our Oriole letting us know she is still around once in a while!

Female too shy to get pic but here is the male who practically lives in the feeder!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Mothers Day Walk

After a mild frost first thing the Mrs and I took our annual 'Mothers day walk" around our woodland trails this Monday ( I know, I know, we were a day late.... that seems to sum up my life off late). Generally the Trilliums, Trout Lilly and wild Violets are all out about now and we were not disappointed in that regard, also lots of new growth of other forest flowers and even many self seeded Maples looking good. Also saw much work to be done back there, several standing dead trees and some already taking a rest on the forest floor calling for me to 'rescue' them for next winters firewood.
The ever increasing sunlight gives me a little more ambition but my knees are crying uncle even after a half hour walk, so carrying the chain saw back there and actually doing something may take a while to get to!!
Returning to our sitting area under the BBQ shelter we were pleased to see the Ruby Throated Humming bird at the feeder just put out yesterday in anticipation of him arriving. This week has seen the return of many of our summer visitors, a pair of Baltimore Orioles arrived along with a pair of Bluebirds (who generally do not stay here , preferring a more open area). The Rose Breasted Grosbeaks have taken over our window feeder giving our various woodpeckers a run for their money, however we were pleased to see a female Red Breasted Woodpecker getting her share of the sunflower seed which most of our birds seem to prefer. Also seen recently was the arrival of the Great Crested Flycatcher that we host every year and the Phoebe each with their distinctive calls.
The apple and pear trees are just now coming into blossom and with a couple of days in the upper twenty’s forecast we can only hope that summer has arrived and will stick around for a while, preferably without any of those destructive storms that seem to be an ever increasing realaity.

Friday, April 28, 2017

The seasons of the year.

Each year we await the signs of spring with great anticipation, the arrival of the birds from warmer climes throughout April and May are carefully noted and compared with the arrival time from previous years, The same is true of the first green shoots and woodland flowers to pop up along our trails, this year we have had a few surprises with things a little different from 'normal'.
A recent hike revealed even more Hepitica in flower than we had ever seen before, in some areas the forest floor always gives us a good show but this year there are hundreds of 'new' Hepitica flowering with just one bloom per plant compared with the established ones with up to a dozen blooms on one plant. Even in our 'cultivated' areas where a few have been transplanted we find new ones popping up several feet away from the original, obviously self seeded. The same seems to be true of our clumps of Bloodroot, must have been a good fall / winter for seedlings?

The birds arrivals have been a little different also with much greater numbers of some species than we normally see. Usually we see one or two Purple Finches that drop by on their way to someplace else but this year we had dozens here for days and still have a pair sticking around, the same is true of the White Throated Sparrows. We had a half dozen hopping around under our apple tree finding bugs and fallen seed from feeder hanging above and still have a pair around who were just seen collecting nesting materials, usually they too move on and dont stick around.
And then as a bonus the Mrs just spotted a FEMALE Red Breasted Woodpecker quickly stealing a seed from the window feeder. We have had a male visiting regularly for several years and thought that perhaps we saw a fledgling last fall but were unable to be sure, we now know we have a PAIR here to add to our large contingent of Downy and Hairy woodpeckers. Go get those Ash Borer, Pine Sawyer, Forest Tent Caterpillars and Pine Bud Worms guys!!
Naturally one of our Robins has decided to build in a spot where we cannot help but disturb her, last year it was just 3' from the front door, this year its in the corner of our BBQ shelter where we sit almost every day to relax and enjoy watching the various birds come and go. Guess we have a close up view unless he gets spooked or Mrs R decides its not to her liking in that spot, he will probably build several for her to look over as usual!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

First Hike of the Season

Just returned from our first hike around our forest trails, not bad out in the sun at +7 but a little chilly in shady places which are not too many yet as Maples, Ash and other hardwoods have yet to leaf out. Having run out of firewood this year I see I have a good start on where to go to get more as winter storm damage has taken the tops off several Maples, with the tops down it makes it much easier to drop the remaining 20' or so without wearing it eh. No flowers showing in the bush yet as still some snow in shady areas but should see the Hepitica and wild Leeks popping up very soon. After a winter of basically sitting on my arse the 1/2 hour or so hike certainly made me aware of how out of shape I am but the arthritic knees held up so did not have to crawl back home.
Those first few trips back with chainsaw to hand are going to be tough but I am sure both the mind and the body will be better for a little sun and exercise ........ just is not going to be a job for today!!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Great Backyard Bird Count.

This week the annual bird count is taking place and although I am not someone who goes out specifically to “bird watch” I have been keeping a closer eye on our bird feeders this week. I also took the time to report one days visitors to Ebird where you can find list of all the birds seen in the area.

We have a steady stream of birds coming to our feeders situated within a couple of feet from our kitchen and living room windows and have come to recognize individual birds in some cases, this makes it a little easier to get an accurate count of the number of each individual species seen in some cases. Most of the birds seen this week listed below are regular visitors, most several time an hour or in the case of the Chickadees every couple of minutes.

First those little pigs the Chickadees, we have at least 8 having seen that many at or near the one feeder at any given moment but given the coming and goings at both feeders I suspect the total number is double that or more. Its imposable to tell.
We have a male & female Downy Woodpecker and last years youngster just recently identified as a male (either that or there is also a female youngster) and the same of a Hairy Woodpecker family whose youngster we watched being 'taught' to come to the feeder last summer by his parents.
We have at least two Red Breasted Nuthatches and dito White Breasted Nuthatches, its hard to identify individuals so there could be more coming and going and cant say if male or female. Our regular Red Breasted Woodpecker is clearly Male and after several years of visiting is now much more comfortable with our presence the other side of the window.

Thats all the daily visitors but this week we also had a Goldfinch or two drop in, a couple of Crows announcing an early spring from nearby tree tops. Our pair of Cardinals drop in once in a while but we have not seen them this week or the pair of Rock Doves that we often see, but the darn Red Squirrel who raids the feeder when our dog Nikki is not looking still tries to sneak in once in a while. The only surprise there is that we still have a window left given Nikki's objection to his presence when seen from in our living room!

There are no unexpected visitors on our list but you may be sure we will be looking for those early spring visitors those usually being the Sparrows and Finches. Just cant wait......... for spring AND the birds!

Visit http://ebird.org/ebird/subnational2/CA-ON-GR?yr=all for recent sightings in Grey Bruce.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Planning for an Uncertain Future

Recently the 2016 population figures have been released and although the overall population in Grey Bruce has increased by 1% to 3% some communities, including the City of Owen Sound have declined. Given that the details of age, work, income and such will not be available for some months I am not sure that we can read much into these initial figures in so far as our rural economic and social stability is concerned.

A number of municipalities are currently reviewing their “Official Plans” as is Grey County, this is perhaps a necessary exercise every so often but given that upper levels of government policy, in particular provincial government, have an enormous impact upon what lower levels can do to control their own destiny I wonder if its an exercise in futility. What particularly comes to mind at this time is the ongoing pressure to close and 'centralize' community schools thus gutting several small communities of one more local 'resource'. Both the residents and the municipalities themselves seem helpless to stop this process in spite of offering some very generous and innovative ways to improve the financial stability of said schools.

My own take upon efforts to stabilize the general decline in rural populations and financial viability of rural areas across Ontario and Canada, that I have previously labelled “The Forgotten Minority” in these pages, is to somehow provide stable employment. To be clear I have no clue as to how to accomplish that! It is clear that with larger and improved farm equipment that few jobs will be created 'down on the farm', perhaps part of the answer is value added farm products via local co-op enterprises. In 10 years or so perhaps the SWIFT internet initiative will enable tech and internet dependent company to locate in our area, but will they leave the big city for rural Ontario?

All of the above being said there are a couple of ways you can have your say regarding the 'plans' for our area. Firstly Grey County is reviewing the County Official Plan through a project called Recolour Grey. A group of University of Guelph Rural Planning and Development Master’s students are investigating age related issues in Grey County as part of the Official Plan review. They will hold small-scale community engagement sessions with both youth and older adults and outreach to community groups and key stakeholders to determine the needs of Grey County residents.
Further information and a short questionnaire of your views can bee found at https://www.grey.ca/news/age-friendly-communities-survey

In Chatsworth Township a meeting for a round table discussion with the Community to discuss their Strategic Plan has been scheduled for February 22, 2017 at 7 p.m. at the hall at the Garafraxa Hill Funeral Home located at the Corner of McNab St and Garafraxa St in Chatsworth.  At the time of writing few details about this meeting are available but we must assume that citizens will be given an opportunity to share their concerns and ideas about the future of out township with municipal staff and councillors. Check the Township website over the next week for further information.

I do hope a few citizens take the time to give input to what goes into these 'Plans' and that some positive and innovative ideas are identified and adopted to help maintain our rural communities as a viable place to live and work.
Readers who attend are invited to submit a synopsis of the issues discussed to the Rural Canadian in the comment section or for publication via email

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Gravel Pits, OMB & MPAC and Rural Communities.

The following was received from the Chatsworth Taxpayers For a Safe and Healthy Environment and is reproduced here as a community service.

Cornerstones Standards Council (CSC) is the Aggregate industry's professional agency trying to raise the standards of aggregate producer practices to be more considerate of Communities hosting pits/quarries.
Because we (The Chatsworth Taxpayers For a Safe and Healthy Environment ) are actively opposing a current pit application (Bumstead Pit), CSC want to meet with us as well as with other municipal and public groups/agencies to hear concerns as more and more pits/quarries apply for licenses:
Saturday, February 4th in Owen Sound at the Bayshore Community Centre.   1 PM - 3PM.  Shoreroom #1  Registration is required. For further Information contact chatsworthtaxpayers@gmail.com

 It's important to go to this meeting with a strong contingent of our group and make emphatic statements of our concerns and what we will not tolerate (haul routes & costs to taxpayers, cumulative impacts on quality of life, environment,  health & safety, property values, risks to Source Waters, wildlife, agricultural lands and so much else.   Here's a few thoughts to start with:

Ontario Stone, Sand & And Gravel Association (OSSGA)

comments on Ontario Municipal Board appeals by aggregate companies (one day it'll be the Bumstead appeal):

"Limits on Appeals of Official Plan Decisions Would not Adequately Protect the Province’s Interest in Aggregates
"In our experience, municipal decision

-makers can be susceptible to focusing on local interests at the expense of broader provincial interests when it comes to aggregates. Despite the importance of aggregates to the Province as a whole, individual communities or local stakeholders may prefer
that the extraction of such resources take place elsewhere. In these circumstances, appeals to the OMB are essential, as the politically expedient decisions of a municipal council or approval authority, may not represent good planning in regard to the provincial interest in aggregates."

6. Essential materials for building a strong Ontario
The Role of the Citizens’ Liaison Office Should be Expanded
"While OSSGA believes that funding citizen groups would not be an appropriate use of resources..."

Clearly, OSSGA is not amiable towards the concerns of host Communities.  Our questions and comments to the CSC Feb. 4 can include questioning its relationship to OSSGA and how it can possibly mediate Community concerns when OSSGA, this powerful industry association, is such a negative force.


In the above link you'll read another comment by OSSGA which is of concern to us.  Please note that the bolding of the 2 items is OSSGA's emphasis is theirs, not ours.  This indicates the strength of their opposition to any considerations to the Communities hosting gravel pits. That's why we have to pay attention and go to this meeting.....

I note that MPAC has retroactively reassessed gravel pits to a lower value and this is substantially effecting residential tax rates in rural municipalities. I expect to be writing more about this in the near future however here is is a short article about the impact upon one rural community. https://www.puslinchtoday.ca/2017/01/12/county-councillors-digging-in-to-oppose-gravel-pit-assessment-change/

Friday, January 6, 2017

CRTC Promises the Impossible.

In December the CRTC stipulated that Internet service providers should strive to provide speeds of 50 megabits per second (Mbps) download speeds and 10 Mbps upload speeds for fixed broadband Internet access and offer an unlimited data option.
“Access to broadband Internet service is vital and a basic telecommunication service all Canadians are entitled to receive," said CRTC chairman and CEO Jean-Pierre Blais in a news release. "Canadians who participated during our process told us that no matter where they live or work in our vast country — whether in a small town in northern Yukon, a rural area of eastern Quebec or in downtown Calgary — everyone needs access to high-quality fixed Internet and mobile services.”

A lofty goal indeed given that many Canadians currently have NO access to internet services in their homes and those that do have a connection generally are limited to 10Mbps by both technology limits and cost. In SW Ontario governments both municipal and provincial are touting what they are going to do under their SouthWest Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) initiative which promises an “open access network that will provide up to 1 Gbps service for under $100/month” and “ build an ultra high-speed fibre optic regional broadband network for everyone in Western Ontario.”
I have no doubt that SOME Canadians and SOME SW Ontario residents will benefit from the above but what really gets me pissed off is the rhetoric that ALL Canadians are going to get 50 Mbps connections or better at some unforeseeable point in the future. To also say that the cost for such a connection will be below $100 is simply fantasy.
The reality that those who live along major through routes or in a community along those routes, who in all probability already have cable or landline broadband DSL of 10 – 20 Mbps available at under that $100 threshold, may well be able to upgrade due to these initiatives to ultra high speed, and that may well assist businesses along such routes to expand or be more efficient. However if anyone thinks that every rural resident will see a fibre-optic line being installed along their concession road anytime in the next 20 years they are dreaming. Some may, most will not. So the very folk who have difficulty getting a decent connection, or any connection, will without a doubt be largely left wondering what such words such as “all Canadians” and “broadband network for everyone” really mean.

I have no great objection to these initiatives, in fact they will hopefully bring more businesses and the associated jobs to those previously under serviced rural towns and villages fortunate enough to be included in these upgrades BUT perhaps the aim should be to bring affordable average speed connections to those who are left just wishing for something better than a 50k dial up connection, that almost useless connection being their only real choice.
Just for those in the big city who are saying “what the hell is he talking about, everyone can get internet cant they?” here are the comparisons.....
Typical DSL IF within a couple of miles of a major telephone switching station OR have access to cable ......5-25Mbps unlimited $40 - $80, - Available to almost 100% of urban residents!
Typical wireless IF you have line of sight to a providers tower ....... 2- 20Mbps unlimited $50 $250, please note that considerable outlay may be required to get a line of sight location for the wireless receiver such as a 60' tower ($2000 installed) and many providers do not provide unlimited connections and may charge for 'overage' above their set limits.
Satellite .......5Mbps limited 50GB to 10Mbps limited 500GB $60 to $120 , again note that line of sight to the satellite is required if trees or buildings are in the way you are SOL, also the dishes are large and heavy and may require special mounting infrastructure to install.

The preferred choice for rural folks would be that wireless hook up however in many areas the available suppliers and the number of transmitter towers is very limited, and I suspect in some place more isolated than here in SW Ontario, non existent. It is this service that needs expanding NOT providing those with already available 20Mbps service even faster speed. If “High quality and reliable digital connectivity is essential for the quality of life of Canadians and Canada’s economic prosperity.” as these folks keep saying then let us work on that for ALL Canadians not just a few.

My apologies to my one or two regular readers if I seem to be focusing on this subject a little too much, it just annoys me when such things are sold as being all inclusive when in reality we out in the sticks know they are not!