Nothing is free

Section: 
Editorial

Downtown and Station Beach may be getting free Wi-Fi service, mainly because of the generosity of Kincardine taxpayers.

 

Our generosity seems to know no bounds when it comes to “marketing” the community. And this is about marketing we are told – people will be able to tweet about where they are and what they are doing.

Tell me, please, how that benefits taxpayers and businesses.

 

Our generosity, on the other hand, is not so plentiful when it comes to the youth of Kincardine.

 

According to another story this week, minor hockey and figure skating officials are concerned with the high cost of ice time in Kincardine - $116 an hour. That compares to $109 in Tiverton, $108 in Ripley and less than $90 in Arran-Elderslie.

 

Under the Wi-Fi plan, Kincardine taxpayers would pay $13,100 of the $21,000 needed to set up the free service.

 

Rather than spend $13,100 on something as nebulous as Wi-Fi, aim the money toward the kids in town.

 

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If we do get free Wi-Fi downtown and at Station Beach, Kincardine will need to be ready for social change.

 

For example, will parking on downtown streets be a problem 24-hours a day? Will people fight for parking spots with good reception so they can operate their laptop computers, smartphones and ipads for free?

 

Do downtown residents want strange people with electronic devices wandering around at all hours?

 

Will restaurants and coffee shops which supply free Wi-Fi to customers suddenly lose many of their paying customers?

 

Will stores remain empty while people play with their keyboards in their cars parked on the main street?

 

Will Station Beach be crowded winter and summer? Will the snowplows have to extend their reach to include Station Beach?

 

Will some innocent teenagers try bumper jumping at Station Beach (if they still do that kind of thing) only to be attacked by irate computer users?

 

If you can afford a tablet or laptop, you don’t need Kincardine taxpayers to provide you with free access to the internet.

 

Yes, I know I’m a Philistine.

 

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On a more serious note, the federal and provincial governments should pay a little more attention to voters, especially when it comes to energy matters.

 

With little public consultation, Ontario brought in the Green Energy Act. The giant wind farms and gas plants that the act brought have not been well received in many areas.

 

In New Brunswick last week, there was a confrontation with police over opposition to fracking for natural gas. Fracking involves forcing a mixture of water and chemicals into bedrock which can pollute underground water supplies.

 

It’s not hard to see why people are upset. The benefits go to the big corporations; the people are left with polluted drinking water.

 

And opposition to carrying oil and petroleum by rail is going to explode soon.

 

Last week a train went off the rails in Alberta and exploded. The village of Gainford had to be evacuated. On July 6, 47 people died when a runaway train of tanker cars filled with oil exploded in Lac Megantic, Quebec.

 

In 2009, railways moved 500 tank cars of oil. This year, they’ll move between 150,000 and 200,000. I wouldn’t want to be living near the mainline of the CPR or CN Rail.

 

The federal government said it would make railways carry more insurance. Big deal for someone who sees his family incinerated.

 

It seems large corporations can do as they please to make money – never mind the people.

 

I suspect that could change with the next major oil spill from a pipeline or train explosion.