Hastings County stalled on high-speed internet expansion north of Highway 7

Don’t hold your breath waiting for expansion of high speed internet services in the north woods… because Hastings County is told it’s expensive north of Highway 7.

Here’s a story about it from the Community Press in Stirling.

By Janet Richards

Jan. 29, 2009

Belleville – The push to expand broadband Internet service in Hastings County is making headway.

County council approved a recommendation from its planning and development committee to work with Barrett Xplorenet Inc.(BXI) on the development of broadband service in the south part of the county.

Paula Preston, a consultant hired by the county to help with expanding broadband services, told council yesterday that the cost of servicing areas north of Highway 7 is too great for the county to undertake right now, even with provincial grants.

The county had invited BXI and Bell Aliant. to submit proposals. Preston said the BXI proposal contained better costing and more coverage for the county’s needs.

CAO Jim Pine told council the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus (EOWC) has been speaking to both the federal and provincial governments almost daily on the issue of broadband. The caucus on Jan. 13 issued a request for expressions of interest to help develop a network that will service 95 per cent of eastern Ontario. By Jan. 28, Pine said, 25 submissions from the private sector had already been received.

“There’s definitely an interest.”

Pine told council the EOWC expects to make a funding request to the federal government in the spring.

Pine said the “trunk network” will fill in the gaps still left in the county’s broadband service, including areas to the north, as well as enhance service. He expects it will take three to five years to develop.

Preston said funding for the broadband enhancement project through the Provincial Rural Connections program should be received in May and service could be in place as early as this fall.

Ontario plans Highway 407 extension from Pickering to Highway 115 by 2013

Great news for travellers to Coe Hill from Toronto and points west in southern Ontario… if you don’t mind driving the Highway 407 toll highway through the big smoke.

Queen’s Park has announced its moving ahead with extension from Brock Road in Pickering to Highway 115.

I wonder if the tolls will be lower than the prices charged by the private company that operates the 407 across Toronto… ouch!

There’s a public information session, to explain the expansion plans, planned in Peterborough Feb. 2. That’s the closest one to Coe Hill.

Here’s the government press release:

McGuinty Government Creating Jobs: Highway Tolls To Help Maintain Roadway

TORONTO, Jan. 27 /CNW/ –

NEWS

The proposed extension of Highway 407 east from Pickering (Brock Road) to Clarington (Highway 35/115) will be a tolled highway with the province retaining control and ownership of the extension.

The province will be responsible for regulating tolls on the highway and meeting customer service needs. Revenues generated from the highway will go towards the construction costs and maintenance of the road, freeing up provincial funds for transit infrastructure projects.

An environmental assessment study is currently underway and the preliminary design has been identified for the highway extension. Public consultation on the project is ongoing.

The environmental assessment study will be submitted to the Minister of the Environment for approval this summer.

A Request for Proposals for the highway extension will be issued later this year. The proposed highway extension would generate 24,000 construction jobs. Construction of the roadway will begin once the environmental approvals are in place, with service beginning by 2013


QUICK FACTS

– Planning studies in the 1950s and 1960s first identified the need for an east-west transportation corridor running north of Toronto to connect 401 in Milton with Highway 35/115 in Clarington.

– The highway that is now 407ETR (http://www.407etr.com/) was built in the 1990s as the central section of that corridor and was sold to the private sector in 1999.

– The proposed highway right-of-way would contain space for a future transitway.

Hasting County worried about ambulance costs and taxes

Here’s a story from the Jan. 29, 2009 edition of the Commuity Press in in Trenton about Hastings-Quinte EMS:

Belleville – Hastings County officials are concerned looming changes at Quinte Health Care could have an impact on the cost of ambulance services and hit taxpayers in the wallet.

CAO Jim Pine told county council Thursday he and EMS director Doug Socha will meet with QHC representatives next week to discuss the implications to ambulance services that might result from changes at local hospitals.

Hastings-Quinte EMS, which provides ambulance service for all of Hastings and Prince Edward counties, responded to about 25,000 emergency medical services calls last year. The cost of providing the service is split 50-50 between the province and county municipalities (through property taxes).

“It’s a real concern and we need a better understanding of what the changes might mean,” Pine said. The county also wants QHC to know it is concerned about the issue.

Council approved a motion by Councillor Tom Deline, reeve of Centre Hastings, directing the county’s treasury department to write a report on the impact changes at QHC and the new long-term care facility being built in Tweed will have on EMS costs.

Deline acknowledged it might be difficult to come up with such a report when QHC has yet to decide on measures to reduce its deficit but he asked for an outline of low, medium and high risk financial factors.

(Tweed Reeve Jo-Anne Albert also drew attention the impact the long-term care facility could have on EMS service in the municipality at council’s meeting Tuesday.)

Deline said Tweed currently has only part-time ambulance service which the province should have been aware of when it made the decision to locate the facility there.

Councillor Carl Tinney, Farady Township reeve, also raised a question regarding ambulance service and where patients are taken. Council was told patients have no choice as to which hospital receives them and that sometimes it’s an issue of where there is a bed available.

Bancroft Mayor Lloyd Churchill cited two recent cases in that community. One patient was transported to Peterborough with a suspected stroke and was sent back to Bancroft while a second patient was taken to Brockville and later transferred to Belleville.

Pine said Hastings-Quinte EMS had to transfer a patient to Buffalo, N.Y. as recently as two months ago.

– Janet Richards

Article ID# 1410962

Tax break proposed if your house or cottage needs big renovations

A home renovation tax credit of up to $1,350 is proposed in the 2009 federal budget.

It’s one of the economic stimulus tax breaks the Conservative announced Mon., Jan. 27 in its budget. It’s a  proposed in the 2009.

The  15-per-cent non-refundable tax credit for work costing between $1,000 and $10,000 on a dwelling, to a maximum of $1,350. Here’s the details of the plan from the finance ministry’s web site