COVID, Climate, Communications

Communications: Broadband Internet Initiatives

The pandemic has highlighted that good internet access is both an essential service and in significant parts of south Frontenac of poor-quality. 

A recent report from the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) summarizes recent federal and provincial internet upgrade initiatives.

Rideau Lakes Township recently took a more direct approach subsidizing WTC, a local internet provider, with eight hundred thousand dollars to bring broadband internet service to 900 residences and business: a priority initiative in their economic development strategy.  The full agreement with WTC is item 9.6 on their April 6, 2020 council meeting agenda.

Rideau Lakes direct approach, while expected to get quicker results, also raises the question of whether it is property taxes that should underwrite private companies to provide this essential service rather than having the federal and provincial governments, which have promised significant sums of money for rural internet, spend the money more effectively.

At the last Council meeting I asked for a report on which properties in South Frontenac have access to broadband fibre: as far as I can tell no one knows.  Let’s hope that the providers will work with the Township to identify the local areas in need of better service: which seems like a necessary step to making improvements.

Climate Change

On May 19 Council approved a `limited scope’ approach to climate change adaptation and mitigation with actions for approval `being developed in house’. What is missing is both a sense of urgency for green house gas emissions mitigation and a commitment to maximize public engagement.

Climate change is similar to the worst of the COVID-19 crisis in that for the last 30 years there have been many studies documenting serious problems in Long term care homes. 

None of the issues now reported daily are new. They are not problems that can be fixed in the midst of a crisis which explains why we have thousands of unnecessary deaths, tens of thousands of people who could not be with their dying family members and hundreds of staff who became ill at work, some of them very seriously, with a few dying. 

For the past 50 years we have known that too many greenhouse gas emissions are a serious problem.  We even studied the problem in South Frontenac in 2004, though few concrete policies came from that work.

Council`s decisions to develop actions for climate change adaptation and mitigation in-house makes sense.  There is no shortage of recommendations on how to reduce green house gases.

What we need to do is identify which approaches make sense in our smaller rural community and, as a matter of urgency, act on them.

As in the nursing homes, when the climate shocks hit it is too late to correct the problem.

Council’s report says that the public ‘could’ be consulted on what actions we need to take.  Once again, like the pandemic response, for effective actions the public needs to accept their necessity. South Frontenac resident’s also have many great ideas on what will work in their life to help mitigate climate change. Our residents need to be the centre of any climate change strategy.

I will be hosting an on-line working group, to help answer the question: ‘what should we be doing in a smaller rural municipality to reduce green house gas emissions?’

Please contact me if you would like to be involved in this discussion.  I hope many of you will, the results will affect all of us.

COVID-19

Our public health unit and local residents deserve a significant amount of credit for making Kingston and the Frontenac’s one of the lowest COVID-19 incident areas in Ontario, including no outbreaks in nursing homes.

For better or worse we do live in an interconnected world, are a social species and COVID-19 is not gone. Many of our seasonal residents from Toronto and Ottawa, and our American friends, while they will not be back for a while, will eventually come. 

All of this is to say, that we are in a marathon with many kilometres to go.  We need to proceed patiently and methodically. Support our local businesses. Say hi to friends. Enjoy our community and environment. And, maintain the necessary precautions to limit the spread of infection.  Preventing the spread of the infection is a responsibility for all or us.

About Ross Sutherland

nurse, researcher, public health care activist, councillor South Frontenac Township
This entry was posted in climate change, COVID-19, Rural Broadband, South Frontenac Township. Bookmark the permalink.

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