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.

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!