Letters – Our readers write: Autumn 2014

Letters published in the Autumn 2014 edition of In The Hills magazine.

September 11, 2014 | | Autumn 2014 | Back Issues | Departments | Letters, Our Readers Write

The Need for Speed

My wife and I moved to Caledon from nearby Brampton just over three years ago and our only major disappointment is Internet service. As a former IT executive, I find it unbelievable that a move 30 minutes north of a major city puts us in an area of limited and/or expensive service.

We are using the Inukshuk wireless service that is jointly offered by Bell and Rogers cellular divisions. Our daughters have moved out, my wife is retired and I do the occasional bit of work at home, and our monthly bill averages well over $250 a month. This for a service that is slower and less reliable than the one we had in Brampton, for which we paid $40.

I’ve contacted Bell numerous times to ask about DSL. I’m within range of two switches that could provide this service if only Bell would install the equipment. Why would they install the DSL equipment and charge $40 a month for Internet when they currently charge six times that to customers using their cellular service?

The lack of options and competition, and zero customer concern by Bell and Rogers in solving the problem, is extremely frustrating. I’m sure most of us in Caledon just want an acceptable level of service that is comparable to communities just a short distance away.

Paul Busch, Mississauga Rd., just south of Belfountain

We’ve been hearing about rural broadband for more than a decade. So where is it? Illustration by Shelagh Armstrong.

We’ve been hearing about rural broadband for more than a decade. So where is it? Illustration by Shelagh Armstrong.

When we moved to Caledon six years ago, we were unable to get a consistent cellular signal at all. I work from home much of the time and I am so grateful that we now have a functional connection (stable, 4G), but I think it is ridiculous that we pay $10 per incremental gigabyte and our charges are consistently over $200 monthly for Internet, without the luxury of downloading movies or other media that our city counterparts take for granted (on DSL, etc).

The time for unlimited downloads is now, but the CRTC does not seem at all concerned. We need a way to consolidate our efforts in order to effect change.

Linda, Caledon (last name withheld on request)

This is a great article on an important priority that is often ignored or assumed within rural economic and social development strategies. We know the world is changing and that we live in an information society and digital economy. Maybe information technologies are intimidating to us as citizens, business owners and local politicians?

I hope In The Hills will follow up this article so that all the region and province can ensure improvements to rural broadband access and quality of service (speed, availability, affordability and use).

Helen Hambly, Guelph

Jeff Rollings’ report on the absence of affordable high-speed Internet service in Dufferin County (“The Need for Speed” Summer ’14) was excellent. It reminded me of my introduction to the Internet.

In 1981-4 I was resident Canadian liaison officer to the US Army’s Signals and Intelligence schools. Each group of equipment supervisors had a curious television set on their desks; the screen was less than half the size of your pages and displayed black-and-white text only. I was told that it was a terminal for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA, later ARPA) and that it connected those engaged in future projects with the universities of the USA and with the defence research organizations.

One need for high-speed Internet service was not mentioned in your article. The Ontario government in its wisdom eliminated useful paper newsletters like the OMAFRA Report and substituted the Internet, where the quantity of available information is overwhelming. The government believes it is sufficient to announce new acts and regulations via the Internet, and amends existing rules affecting farmers almost daily (e.g., the ban on harvesting land for a diameter of one mile around any badger den).

If ignorance of the law is no excuse, farmers must have access to government Internet data and it must be high-speed access.

Charles Hooker, East Garafraxa

An iridescent tree swallow in flight. Photo by Robert McCaw.

An iridescent tree swallow in flight. Photo by Robert McCaw.

Chimney Swifts

Re: “Swifts and Swallows” Spring ’14. I live in Cataract and for the first time I believe we have chimney swifts in our chimney. Writer Don Scallen is welcome to contact me, if he’s interested in having a look.

Dave Benedetti, Cataract

Don Scallen replies:

On a July day, I sat in Dave’s driveway at dusk and, in fact, he does have a pair of chimney swifts nesting in his ten-year-old 30-foot chimney. This is, of course, good news. The dimensions of his chimney – eight inches square at the opening, widening to 13 inches square lower down – could provide a reference for future chimney-swift-friendly structures.

I’ve also watched chimney swifts chattering high overhead Alton in recent days, so that small community is also home to these imperilled birds.

I wish I had read this article earlier! Don could have sat in our backyard in Caledon East and watched our “tenants.” When my husband and I moved to our new home, there was a mound of earth behind us. We watched swallows fly in and out of this hill of earth until the contractor built homes. My brother, Lloyd, then built us a birdhouse with six compartments which my husband, Larry, installed atop a 10-foot cedar post. Since then we usually have at least two couples which we call our “tenants” and enjoy watching them select which “unit” they will settle into.

Sharon & Larry Troy, Caledon East

We live on 89 acres between Erin and Guelph, and have always had tree swallows and a couple of bluebirds nesting in the boxes we put up around our paddocks. Last year we had a couple of barn swallows build nests in our barn. The barn swallows are back this year and have built two nests, and have so far created two batches of babies. It looks like one nest is starting on a third. Between these two nests (on the barn door opener), there is a robin’s nest.

It has been wonderful to see so many fledglings flying in and out of the barn every day. We also have a robin in the front of our house who is now laying her second set of eggs. And a couple of flycatchers have taken up residence near the barn and the house over the last couple of years.

I don’t know a lot about birds, but I wonder, do they always have multiple sets of babies? We have definitely appreciated these birds eating our mosquitoes this year – we have plenty to go around!

By the way I loved your article and learned a lot from it.

Laurie Davis, Erin

The Wonder of Gliding

Jock is a rare Three Diamond pilot, each diamond an internationally recognized symbol for an outstanding powerless flight.

Jock is a rare Three Diamond pilot, each diamond an internationally recognized symbol for an outstanding powerless flight.

I was excited to see there was an article about gliding in your summer issue (“Three Diamond Sparrow”) as I had just had my first flight and was excited about it. Then I read the story. What a shock! Instead of the sense of wonder I felt about my great adventure, the author made it sound scary and dangerous. She went on and on about how sick she felt.

Yes, some people can get sick lying on a waterbed, but I would hate to discourage those who might be interested in trying this fabulous experience. I feel she did a total disservice to the sport of soaring.

Personally, I had a wonderful experience – this is how birds feel! I was with a very experienced pilot, Eddie Carolan, and did not feel queasy or unsafe at any time.

I encourage your readers to go out to the York Soaring Club just off Hwy 9, west of Orangeville. (I am not associated with the club.) You can drop in any weekend when the weather is good and, for $140, enjoy a flight with an experienced pilot. Please don’t be put off by this article. It’s a great experience – and you never know, you might get hooked!

Nancy Angrove Urekar, Orangeville

Writer Dorothy Pedersen has captured my husband, Jock, and his passion for flying gliders perfectly. I can still see her sitting in the backseat of that glider, a big smile on her face – likely more from the relief of landing safely and being back on the ground. Thank you, Dorothy. It’s a great article and your humour comes through in each sentence.

Sandy Small Proudfoot, Mono

The Value of Farmland

Thank you for the recent article featuring Prof. Van Acker’s speech (“The Value of Farmland” Summer ’14). You are such great supporters of Food & Water First, I just wanted to reiterate the fact that we are truly appreciative. Prof. Van Acker is a lovely human being and an eloquent speaker – and I was happy to see his speech was equally compelling in print. I’m poring over it a third time, per my habit of reading In the Hills iteratively.

Shirley Boxem, Food & Water First

Again it seems the economy trumps all! In Caledon another 10,000 folks are required to move in and, to no surprise, the Places To Grow provincial policy states that if no other land is available, then it is okay to rezone agricultural land!

When is enough enough? Enough population, density, taxes, pavement?

Sustainability – the UNESCO definition simply says, “Enough, for all, forever.” Caledon is rich in farmland, but not in guts to say enough is enough! Food security should be on our radar – training and creating new models of urban and peri-urban agriculture that are valued in our backyard should trump new residential development!

Barb Imrie, Caledon

Dragon Boats

Two dragon boat crews battle it out at a recent regatta at Heart Lake Conservation area. Photo by Pete Paterson.

Two dragon boat crews battle it out at a recent regatta at Heart Lake Conservation area. Photo by Pete Paterson.

I loved this article (“Paddling with Dragons” Summer ’14), and found it very interesting. I am now a celebrated 11-year breast cancer survivor and will be participating in Ravenna, Italy in the B.C. division with my home team of 10 years, “Rowbust.” This sport has really kept me fit both physically and emotionally. I recommend it to anyone who loves action, hard work and camaraderie. We take no prisoners!

Bonnie Anger, London

Square?

The solution to your “Albion Challenges Garafraxa” puzzle in the summer issue is wrong.

Your puzzle master might do well to consider fact checking before publishing his/her solutions. A square is, by definition, indeed a rectangle. It is also a parallelogram and a rhombus. While every square is a rectangle, parallelogram and rhombus, not every rectangle, parallelogram or rhombus is a square.

As someone once said, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”

Walter Sickinger, Mulmur

Ken Weber replies:

These quasi-syllogisms about the square have been around since Pythagoras. Even schoolchildren know them, so it’s safe to assume that in the context of an entertaining challenge, the surveyors Chewitt and Ryckman would have accepted the standard definition of the shapes as an a priori condition. A puzzle, after all, is a puzzle.

The “someone” quoted as saying “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing” was Alexander Pope in “An Essay on Criticism” (1711). What he actually said was, “A little learning is a dangerous thing.” Interestingly, the poem has two other famous lines: “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread,” and the gentler, more encouraging “To err is human, to forgive divine.”

CORRECTION

“The Love Pirate” (Summer ’14) states that con man Andrew John Gibson was asked to lecture from the pulpit of Stanton’s Presbyterian church. In fact, there was no church in Stanton. The Presbyterian church was one and a half miles up the road in Mansfield.

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