Rural infrastructure needs attention

October 1, 2014   ·   0 Comments

SEEMINGLY EVERYONE is in favour of improving infrastructure, although precious few of those advocating it favour new taxes as a means of accomplishing the task.

At Ottawa, the current government has spent many millions on projects  but now seems totally committed to cutbacks en route to a balanced budget before next year’s federal election.

And at Queen’s Park, the new Liberal majority government has supposedly embarked on multi-billion-dollar infrastructure improvements, although thus far it appears nearly all the money will be spent battling gridlock in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA).

Missing at both levels of government is any apparent concern over infrastructure in rural areas, particularly in the areas of transportation and communications.

In the transportation area, the Liberals are just as bad as the Conservatives were when it comes too ignoring the plight of rural taxpayers, having refused to acknowledge that dumping thousands of kilometres of provincial highways (albeit hardly any in Toronto) on to the property taxpayers has been hugely inequitable.

As matters stand, Dufferin’s property owners are left footing the huge cost of maintaining three major arteries – Dufferin 109, Dufferin 124 and Airport Road (Dufferin 18) – none of which qualify as roadways “primarily for local use,” as the Harris PCs once claimed.

Similarly, all the talk at Queen’s Park about improving GO Transit’s rail services, through electrification and ultimately 15-minute service at peak periods on most of the lines, isn’t accompanied by any acknowledgment of  a need for even minimal rail service out of Orangeville and Alliston.

As for communications, the crying need for infrastructure in rural Ontario is for ultra high speed (UHS) Internet service, which could be achieved through the provision of fibre optic cable.

Such service is already available in large cities and towns. With it, the Citizen’s pages can be sent to our printer in Mississauga in a tiny fraction of the time it once took.

Bell Canada’s relevant website ( boasts the availability of “Internet powered by Canada’s fibre optic network,” but fails to mention that the network doesn’t reach everyone, even in Southern Ontario.

“Bell uses fibre optic, the very latest and best network technology in the world, to deliver Internet service to millions of homes in Canada. What does this mean for you? Well for starters, fibre optic means lightning-fast downloads and uploads. It also means smart technology that allows you to manage who gets on the Internet and when, as well as the best security for safe surfing. And because you want to use the Internet everywhere, from the bedroom to the backyard, our fibre optic Internet comes with the best Wi-Fi technology for your home.”

Similarly, Rogers ( boasts that its “Hybrid-Fibre Optic Network” was built with the future in mind. “Certified to ensure consistently fast speeds, our widely available network delivers fibre right to your neighbourhood and then uses high capacity coax cables – to bring you access to fast download speeds and minimal buffering.”

What neither website bothers to mention is that even in a rural town so close to Toronto as Mono, residents are being told it would cost $15,000 to $20,000 to have the necessary cables extended to their homes.

Clearly what’s needed is action by the federal government to accomplish what Ontario Hydro did in the 1950s with its rural electrification program – extend high-speed Internet service to rural areas within five years by permitting the servers to pay the significant costs involved through temporary surcharges on all their existing customers.

As we see it, availability of high-speed Internet is as important today as availability of cheap electricity was to farmers and other rural residents in the 1950s.

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