Blog Archives

It’s never to early to start planning your Winter vacation on the GNP

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1311172644-1The Great Northern Peninsula has one of the longest winter seasons on the Island portion of the province of Newfoundland & Labrador. We are the ideal location for an array of winter activities and enjoy the scenery as you experience the countryside, view the frozen Strait of Belle Isle with Labrador as the backdrop or snowmobile on our most Northerly section of the remaining Appalachian mountains.

There is a number of trail networks for cross-country ski-ing or snow-shoeing, as well as the opportunity for the adventurous type to visit alternative locations.

You can enjoy ice-fishing activities, pond skating or a good ol’ hockey game that really immerse you in all the fun and enjoyment winter brings to the people of the North. We embrace winter activities and have a love for spending time in the great outdoors, whether it be at the cabin with a crackling fire, game of cards and a cup of tea or at home with the family building a snowman and making those snow angels we all did when we were kids.

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It certainly is never too early to begin your plan to enjoy all the Great Northern Peninsula has to offer.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Marketing Outport Newfoundland & Labrador

Newfoundland & Labrador has marketed ‘outport’ or rural parts of the province in its award-winning tourism ad campaigns.

Innovative rural companies like Auk Island Winery in Twillingate are continuing to add flavour to the tourism experience. Newfoundland & Labrador takes pride in its unique local berries, such as patridgeberry, bakeapples, squashberries, as well as our very own Screech Rum. This company typically makes berry wines and sells quintessentially on Newfoundlandia.

I have tried bottles that are called, “Moose Juice”, “Krooked Cod”, “Jellybean Row” and “Funky Puffin”. I believe part of my purchasing of this product is curiosity, but primarily to support a local business that prides itself in all things Newfoundland & Labrador.

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The imagery on Outport Wine, which includes an iceberg, outport boats and fishing rooms. The splash of Screech just adds to the authenticity and certainly begins the storytelling process.

This season I hope to tour Auk Island Winery and taste many other wines they have produced in various shapes and sizes. Let’s keep being creative and expand the rural economy and our visitor experiences as we celebrate traditional and modern-day outports.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Why We Need Rural Integrity For a Healthy World

–Philip J Reed on behalf of Exede, a rural internet provider.

In the natural world, diversity matters.  An ecosystem needs a variety of both plant and animal species in order to thrive.  On a larger scale, a healthy planet is home to a variety of landscapes, from rain forest to tundra, that contribute to a balanced earth.

In the human world created by civilization, another kind of diversity is important to our overall health in the present and to our future as a species. That diversity is found in the variety of settings in which we live, from the most densely populated cities to the most isolated rural outposts.

We tend to think of cities as the most important of those settings, and that tendency is reinforced by the growing cultural influence and political clout of urban areas, qualities that are themselves functions of vast demographic change. In 1800, some three percent of the world’s people lived in urban areas. According to a 2011 estimate by the United Nations, in 2008 the number of people living in cities reached 3.3 billion, for the first time amounting to more than half of the total world population.

That trend is likely to continue. Between 2011 and 2050, the United Nations expects world population to grow by 2.3 billion and the urban population to grow by 2.6 billion. This projection can mean only one thing: Cities will grow while rural population shrinks.

Perhaps it’s natural, then to focus our attention on cities, but rural areas and the small towns and villages they encompass are absolutely necessary to a healthy world. We neglect them at our peril. The fact is that the very existence of cities depends on the integrity of the rural areas on which we all depend.

Agriculture is obviously essential to our survival, and farming is of course a rural enterprise. Fisheries occupy a similar position. Natural resources are another product of the rural environment. Some are renewable, such as forest products and wind- and water-powered energy. Others are non-renewable, including sources of energy like oil and natural gas, and sources of industrial materials generated by mining. Regardless of category, all are critical to our survival and all originate in rural areas.

A healthy ecosystem also depends on the non-urban environment. Clean air and water are hardly urban contributions to the human condition. For those necessities, we need rural areas.

However, the rural contribution is not limited to practical matters, important as those are. We derive physical and psychological benefit from the countryside in ways that are quite real, though hard to quantify.  We get pleasure from sports and outdoor activities, and from visiting an area where we can enjoy natural beauty and abundant wildlife.  If nothing else, our psyches often need the refreshment of the rural perspective.

Beyond the vision of rolling green hills and amber waves of grain that symbolize “the country,” the small towns that punctuate rural areas also fill critical needs. First, they provide a nexus for distribution of those vital rural products, including food, lumber and minerals. Second, they perform important functions for the rural population, providing small-scale government, along with commercial and personal services, that would not be available in a truly isolated area. Third, they offer community, a necessity for the inherently social beings that we are. Without small towns, the rural population’s decline would likely be even more precipitous than is now predicted.

Our tendency to discount rural value is nothing new. It found a notably clear expression in the debate over the original terms of the U.S. Constitution, when less populous states feared that they would have no say in a legislature apportioned according to population. The convention stalled over the question, and it took the “Great Compromise” to move things forward. That compromise added a legislative body, the Senate, in which each state had equal power regardless of population.

The Great Compromise recognized the importance of rural America. The need to respect the value and integrity of all non-urban areas around the world is certainly no less important today than it was in the 18th century. If anything, the need becomes more urgent as the cities grow in the foreseeable future.

The Erosion of Rural NL

Rural Newfoundland & Labrador has suffered immensely with the moratorium of the cod fishery in 1992. In nearly two decades that would follow we would see the plight of our youth, transient families and the de-population of our rural communities – all leading to erosion of infrastructure and services that are inadequate to meet the needs of current residents and unable to create a climate to attract enough young people and families to live rural. There are better ways to serve our rural economies.

Let’s take a look at the region and we will see the drastic decline in population since 1991. The 2011 census will only reinforce the fact that our region is facing continued  population decline and further aged population.

St. Anthony – Port au Choix Region  Community Census Counts

 Community  1991  2001  2006  % Change 1991-2006
 St. Anthony  3,164  2,730  2,476  -21.7%
 Port au Choix  1,260  1,010  893  -29.1%
 Roddickton  1,153  1,003  911  -21.0%
 St. Lunaire-Griquet  1,020  822  666  -34.7%
 Flowers Cove  372  325  270  -27.4%

Copyright: Stats Canada Census Counts (http://www.economics.gov.nl.ca/pdf2007/regionaldemographicprofiles.pdf)

The sad realities of our communal landscapes in Rural Newfoundland – images you will not see promoted by the Department of Tourism in our Award Winning ads.

Once vibrant fishing rooms, sheds, stages and wharves are now losing their bright red glamour. A fishing boat on the shore, not seeing the water for a while…

Once a vibrant family homestead that was painted brightly orange and trimmed with green. It has not seen life running around the kitchen in several years…

More vacated homes…

A not so happy jellybean row…

NDP Leader, Lorraine Michael argues Newfoundland and Labrador’s wealth from the offshore oil industry is not finding its way into enough pocketbooks, including rural areas in a recent CBC interview. (Read here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/story/2011/09/05/nl-oil-wealth-ndp-905.html)

In this region there are still roads that are unpaved, communities and regions that do not have broadband Internet coverage, cable options or cellular telephone coverage. And yet, we live in Canada? In the 21st century? What about community-based day care, providing meaningful employment, working with the Federal Government to address fishery issues and cutting red tape and regulations (rural areas do not require the same policy for development as required by larger urban centres).

We must take greater care for people. Some have forgotten it was the rural regions that provided the resources to enable larger centres to thrive whether the resource fish, timber or minerals – even the oil is offshore. The Government needs to be more responsible when sharing our wealth, resources and being enablers that can provide rural regions the ability to re-vitalize. Better decisions need to be made now or I only fear the bust our economy will face once we begin to experience life after oil.

We must work together to find co-operative solutions that will revitalize our rural economies. No longer can we stand for the mis-management of our resources, including the way we are treated.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

 

Offer More Grants to Towns – Less Grants to Big Business

The Northern Pen newspaper reports, “$4 Million Earmarked for Northern Peninsula” in today’s edition.

 In recent weeks the Government has made several spending announcements across the province in the weeks leading up to the upcoming Fall election.  

Timing is certainly everything….and Rural Newfoundland & Labrador is overdue payment. The $4 Million is certainly appreciated as it helps Town address some local concerns. However, the dollar value announced for the Great Northern Peninsula does not go far enough – further investments are needed.

Many Towns and communities on the Great Northern Peninsula are challenged with smaller populations and fewer businesses, resulting in a smaller tax base to draw upon revenues. This makes it even more challenging for small rural municipalities to provide basic services, such as chlorinated water and snow clearing, as well as being able to maintain eroding infrastructure.  Even coming up with a 10% share can be a constant battle.  A one-time increase to municipal operating grants needs a review, especially for small rural Towns.  

I’ve driven through many Towns on the Great Northern Peninsula and it is evident their roads are not of comparable standards to those of Local Service Districts and other unincorporated communities. Organized Towns  have property taxpayers; they should not see a reduction of services and have to drive over less superior roads.

It is fortunate through an Amalgamation MOU between the Town of Roddickton and the Town of Bide-Arm that they would see road improvements. On June 19, 2011 I was one of first to drive through Bide-Arm  passing by James Randell & Sons and not feel the washboard effect from the potholes. I slowly crawled over freshly laid pavement. This pavement is long overdue, a sign of progress. It may lead to new business developments, enhanced visitation to current businesses/attractions and increased housing starts.

Small  to medium-sized businesses are the drivers in the rural economies. We should give further consideration to providing them with more incentives to set-up in Towns of rural regions, adding to the local economy and creating jobs. Our tax dollars should be strategically invested and not just handed to large consortiums, oil giants and other large-scale companies. Small Towns need additional operating grants.

The Great Northern Peninsula will see further progress by working together. We may have a small population, but we are big on ideas with a tonne of heart. If we work together we will be heard, make good decisions and prosper as a region.

Christopher Mitchelmore, NDP Candidate for the Straits- White Bay North would like to meet with Municipalities, Local Service Disctricts, Local Commitees, Non-Profits, Local Business and Residents. We as the NDP are here to listen and work with the people of the district to find answers to your issues and concerns.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore
E: christophermitchelmore@nl.ndp.ca
Twitter/LiveRuralNL

Cuban Vacation…Part IV

There is something I find extremely fascinating and satisfying about riding a train. It may have to do with the fact that there is no train offering on the island of Newfoundland    since 1990. We use to have the Newfie Bullet; however, it has been many years out of commission. The former railbed of the main line is now utilized as a T’railway Provincial Park for hikers, skiers and users of All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) and snowmobiles.

We continued our train ride, which provided views of rural life in Cuba. I enjoy the tranquility of nature.

One could see people working at either side of the train. They were tilling soil, picking fruit or caring for an animal.

We arrived at a Ranch to stop for an hour and half. There were several work hands greeting everyone from the train. They had a restaurant with the chef ready to serve patrons a tasty lunch. The crops were in view and so were the horses.

Umberto, 19, asked us if we would like to go for a horse ride. The cost was 10 C.U.C. for 20 minutes. We decided we would saddle up and ride through the fields. I love horses and it has been several years since I have been riding. My last time may have been in Reidville in 2006. In between, I managed to ride camels, donkeys and the waves. I certainly missed the joy of riding.

Umberto (our Cuban cowboy) gives Tobias the reins of his horse:

We go to trot through the banana plants, fields and plantation. We discovered coffee, yucca, mango and more on our ride:

Umberto took us through the field after our first horse ride to see coffee. We got to taste the buds. He explained how they grew and how they needed roasting. Then he showed us three different species of mango. We ate one right there on location, peeling back the skin and embedding our teeth into the juicy fruit.

We returned back to the Tower galloping via horseback ride. It was quite adventurous dashing through open water. We would meet up with Umberto later to show us Trinidad and give an inside view of the city.

Horseback riding in Cuba was certainly a highlight!

Live Rural NL -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

Related articles

Encourage Youth to Make Their Own Money…

I remember one of my first endeavours into business. We were roadside retailers/re-sellers of items we purchased at a local convenience store. Two friends a couple of houses away and I purchased candy, potato chips, gum and Neilson Chunk chocolates and re-packaged the items into brown paper bags. We creatively called our product goodie bags, as the “surprise bag” was already taken. We sold them for $0.50/per bag. I am unsure if we made money on this product or if the customers felt they received good value for their money. We also sold some chalk painted rocks and other handmade crafts. I remember they were not big sellers though. Local residents from our rural community supported our first venture into the world of business. In the early 1990′s, there appeared to be more value placed on being creative, taking initiative and  incentive to earn a few dollars to buy things we wanted. I know at the youthful age, we most likely re-invested it on more sugary good stuff :).

As I grew older,  my progression in business included packing up firewood, painting fences, mowing lawns, doing chores or odd jobs, washing cars, tutoring to selling homemade crafts. My parents encouraged me to work hard, realize there is a cost of material goods and to understand the value of money.

At 16 years of age, I founded Flower’s Island Museum. The business expanded to include a 9-hole miniature golf course and later a summer festival, which operated for two years in partnership with another youth entrepreneur. During 2002, I contacted Nortip Development Corporation seeking information on heritage grants and spoke with the Youth Development Officer. Although, I did not apply or receive grant funding, I was introduced to a program they offered called Youth Ventures.

Youth Ventures empowers students age 12-29 start and operate their own businesses in Newfoundland & Labrador. There are 23 Youth Ventures Coordinators throughout the province to provide free assistance to interested youth. You can visit www.youthventuresnl.com. They have a list of ideas, information and contact information for a local coordinator.

Youth Ventures helped raise the profile of my business. I was profiled by the Getting the Message Out (GMO) program with the Department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development. During my Bachelor of Commerce studies at Memorial University, I became employed as an intern with GMO. As well, received a number of local and provincial honors, which included the Provincial High Achievement of Financial Management Award sponsored by the Royal Bank of Canada. Operating my own business provided a wealth of experiences, included customer service, marketing, financial management, human resources and operations. I enjoyed adapting to new situations and engaging in constant improvement. This experience aided in landing a position with an International Marine & Engineering Consultancy Headquartered in London, England.

There is satisfaction in creating, assisting and meeting the needs of the consumer. Youth in Rural Newfoundland & Labrador have opportunities to make their own money and put their talents to good use by venturing into the wonderful world of business. However, without incentive to do so, we may lose a future generation of innovators and economic drivers. In some rural communities it appears adherent today that youth no longer need to work to earn an allowance. Additionally, many are given mobile phones starting at elementary school, not to mention parents purchasing all sorts of electronics, brand name clothing, lavish recreational vehicles and cars as presents.

Youth need to be encouraged, understand the importance of the almighty dollar and to make decisions with their own money.  The future can be bright for rural Newfoundland & Labrador for young leaders today and tomorrow, if we provide the necessary supports.

Encourage youth to make their own money…create their own dream job, be their own boss and masters of their own destiny.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

Tilting is a Representative of Rural Outport NL

During Fall 2006, I had taken a Retail Management course at Memorial University and we focused on the Rooms, which is the province’s cultural facility – housing the Provincial Museum, Art Gallery and Archives.

Myself and fellow group member Doug G. were tasked with establishing an event at this facility and we decided to have a “Tilting Time” at Christmas.

Christmas in July: A Time in Tilting

Christmas has strong brand equity for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, especially the traditions and cultural activities in rural NL. It provides the Rooms the opportunity to market to locals, as well as give tourist an opportunity to experience the cultural significance of Christmas to outport Newfoundland in peak tourist season.

Christmas themed displays are attractive and encourage visits by people who may otherwise perceive The Rooms as a stuffy art gallery (D. Hayward, presentation to class, November, 28, 2006). The Christmas in July event will also expose summer tourists to aspects of Newfoundland culture that they would not normally have the opportunity to experience.

Décor: Freshly Cut Pine Trees stationed in Salt Beef Pails (3KGs), with old-fashioned, glass Christmas Balls with an array of colours. Glass Displays of Traditional Christmas Toys, Hand Carved Boats and Trains……….The event will feature live displays of mummering and static displays (mannequins) of mummers in the social epicenter of an outport home… the kitchen. The mummers will engage the visitors and encourage them to take part in their playful antics and dancing.

Music: Simini, CD signing at the Gift shop; translate into sales Traditional Newfoundland entertainer, Bud Davidge of Simani will be invited to perform songs including the Christmas favourite The Mummer’s Song A CD signing will take place in the gift shop following the performance.

Theatre: Mummers Re-enactment; Stage set in the kitchen; linked to Simini. (Displays about Mummering; disguises; Mummer’s Troupe (Chris Brooks), David Blackwood and tie in the English and Irish History.

Old-Fashion Time: Fogo Accordion Group and Square Dancers; Ugly Stick

Taste of Tilting: Traditional Food of from the shore (possibly some seafood appetizers and land (agricultural aspect) finger foods; vegetable trays from fresh garden vegetables. Rooms Restaurant have a special events menu during the day for Christmas Dinner, peas soup, jigs dinner, baked beans and fish cakes…….

Weeks leading up to the event have all visitors at the museum or gift shop fill out an entry form (optional) requesting name, telephone and email.  All visitors can be added to an email list and informed about the event and that the draw will be taking place at the Christmas in July; Tilting Time.  A local artist could also donate a portrait of Tilting from the 1950’s at the event to attract a large crowd and have works and prints on display at the gift shop. A way to tie in the product and artist selection and solicitation for traveling exhibits.

Sales Promotion: A trip for two to tilting to enjoy the Beach Festival; Accommodations at Foley’s B&B, Boat Tour, Lane’s Museum, Historical Tour, Ferry/Travel(Rental Car).

Purity as a corporate sponsor……offer purity syrup to guests… care packages in the gift shop. Advertise by handing out peppermint candy in a Rooms Exclusive brown paper plastic wrapping with a gift tag attached inviting patrons to the Christmas in July Party. Appeal to the clientele…..try to create buzz in the community….word of mouth.

Sending Christmas cards to valued customers (and those you hope to attract) can be an effective marketing tactic. Also, donate a Product to your local area Radio Station, they have numerous contests and they are always looking for sponsors! Christmas in July Special. Written off as a tax deduction. Plus free advertising and exposure for your business donation.

The concept of a Tilting Time is applicable to opportunities on the Great Northern Peninsula for organizations and businesses to reach a broad audience and promote our unique culture and heritage.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

 

 

 

 

 

Behind every door…there is always a story

A story behind every door in Ireland

The above photo was taken while visiting the streets of Dublin, Ireland in late-November 2010. I could not resist snapping an image of iconic and colourful doors, which are found in both urban and rural settings throughout the country.

Behind every door there is a story to be told – I find this especially through in rural regions. As I have been invited passed the door and into the home of the owner. Usually our conversations would be had at he kitchen table over a cup of Tetley tea, with a view of the water. I enjoy striking up a conversation with the elderly to tell me about the past, the stories that bring smiles to their faces and mine. I am inquisitive, asking about the way of daily living, how they earned a living, how they lived from the land and sea, what they did for entertainment, what it was like to raise a family, how the holidays were spent? I can only try to envision the way it use to be, as I have been raised at a much different time for rural Newfoundland & Labrador.

Most doors of rural Newfoundland & Labrador are no longer painted with vibrant color. Locally, my aunt Glad is the exception with the bright orange doorway. Despite a trend of white washed doors – there are still good stories to be told to those willing to listen.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

Don’t Rural Areas Deserve Access to Improved Internet Service?

Rural regions are being left behind with respect to access to Internet and mobile/cellular service. 

As a young professional -  I choose to  live and work in a rural region of the Great Northern Peninsula, Newfoundland and Labrador. People have classified me as a world traveller, visiting 27 countries around the world,  while living and/or working in large cities that included London, England; Prague, Czech Republic and Edmonton, Alberta. My community in which I live has a modest high speed (DSL) Internet connection. I say modest because I called Bell when they were promoting upgrades to two free months of high speed ultra. The customer service agent seemed puzzled I would even think this service would be available when I asked for the upgrade. This is concerning.

Moreover, many communities and Towns surrounding me are not so fortunate. In fact, I commute 50 kilometers to work each morning to an office that promotes business and community development. Yet we do not have high speed internet access, which impairs our ability to service clients. We have a satellite connection, at best the result is no where near high speeds. The current technology servicing this region is most likely outdated and future technology plans do not sound positive despite promises to have a High Speed in all rural regions in Newfoundland & Labrador. The rural region will probably, with heavy government subsidies receive substandard technology; something cheap, which is not state of the art.  For example an HSPA network may be installed with a low theoretical max downstream (ex. 7.2 Mbit/s), which won’t actually reach this level (realistically 2 Mbit/s). This service will be minimal and provide options like basic voice over internet protocol, try participating in a webinar, upload an image or watch a missed favourite television show and tell me the service is adequate. Government policies need to be developed to ensure that regulatory standards are met. Without proper investments rural regional development will continued to be stagnate.

How can businesses thrive in a rural region, like the Great Northern Peninsula if the infrastructure can not support innovation?

The community of St. Barbe has a ferry service to Blanc Sablon, connecting us to Labrador and other mainland Canada .From May-October, 2010, a total of 77,374 passengers (an increase of 18% from the 2009 season) used this service. The terminal at St. Barbe does not have high speed access or wi-fi. This limits vendors, impacts accommodation/trip planning and impairs tourism development for the region.

The St. Anthony airport provides an outlet for passenger traffic of approximately 18,000 people annually. Beyond air passenger traffic a  number of people travel to the St. Anthony region. However, those travelling by airbus service, rental or personal car will be alarmed heading north to the largest economy on the Northern Peninsula, which has nearly 3,000 residents – there is limited or no cellphone coverage for nearly 50 kilometersl. This has an impact on those with busy schedules on business, planning their travels or requiring emergancy services. If one needed a tow truck, firefighter, police officer or  medical personnel, how would they be reached?

There are many missed business opportunities. Rural regions simply can not compete on a fair playing field. We are already challenged with an aging population, sparse geographical distances between communities, and few permanent residents, resulting in a limited market. How are we able or the small business owner able to develop markets if they do not have tools to succeed? There are opportunities for businesses to expand into export markets, on-line selling, marketing, utilize the social media and adapt to social networking to build stronger communities.

In rural areas, the market will not result in either telephone or Internet services that are reasonably similar to urban areas in terms of affordability or performance. When asked directly, the Internet service or telephone companies claim a business case can not be made for this service. Yet the consumer knows how lucrative telecommunications is in Canada, as there is limited competition and frequent public subsidy. These companies benefit from rural regions retaining landline services and also purchasing a dial-up or slow broadband coverage, as infrastructure maintenance is much lower than installing and maintaining a ubiqutous network. TOne only needs to look to the richest man in the world, he owns América Móvil, which at 2010 was Latin America’s largest mobile-phone carrier, accounted for around US$49 billion of his wealth by the end of 2010 (Wikipedia).  Rural economies  need a national policy to supplement the abilities of companies to provide quality and accountable rural services.

As part of Canada’s Economic Action Plan, the Harper Government is investing $225 million over three years for Industry Canada to develop and implement a strategy to extend and improve broadband coverage. I only hope this is a strategy that maximizes the benefit for the end consumer and not throwing money at the larger internet providers without holding them accountable of our tax dollars. However, this is the government after all – One that is about large Corporate Tax Cuts, reduction of government services to rural regions (Service Canada Office closures) and certainly un-accountable.

Still patiently waiting for improved internet and cell coverage on the Great Northern Peninsula, Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada and many other rural regions of our country.

Live Rural NL -                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Christopher Mitchelmore

Below is an article related to Canada’s Economic Action Plan for Improved Broadband Internet Access:

On July 30, 2009 the following headline was released:

“Prime Minister Harper annouces major improvements to broadband internet access to rural Canada, as part of the Conservative Government’s Economic Action Plan”.

More Canadian families and businesses will have access to high-speed internet services thanks to a major new investment to extend and improve broadband coverage, part of Canada’s Economic Action Plan.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced the next steps in the Government’s strategy to expand broadband internet access to unserved and underserved communities throughout Canada.

“The potential benefits of expanded broadband services are enormous, particularly for the thousands of Canadians who live in rural and remote communities,” said the Prime Minister. “The jobs of the future will increasingly depend on people in communities like Thetford Mines having consistent and reliable access to broadband services such as distance education, telehealth coverage and new online business opportunities.  These are services that more and more Canadians rely on; they should also be services that all Canadians can count on.”

The Prime Minister announced that the Federal Government has completed a comprehensive nationwide survey of broadband access to determine what regions have the highest need.  The Harper Government will fund up to 50 percent of the costs for organizations selected to deploy broadband infrastructure and services to these areas.

The Government will begin accepting applications from potential private sector partners this summer, and will select recipients by December 2009.  The key criteria for successful applicants include who can provide the best coverage at the lowest cost, create jobs, deliver within a set timeframe, and ensure a viable and sustainable business model for the future.


Backgrounder

As part of Canada’s Economic Action Plan, the Harper Government is investing $225 million over three years for Industry Canada to develop and implement a strategy to extend and improve broadband coverage.  The goal of this investment is to extend broadband service to as many remaining unserved and underserved Canadian households as possible.

As communities vary greatly in size, this program focuses on connecting households. This method also provides a clearer understanding of service availability for Canadians; the fact that a community has broadband access does not always indicate the service is available to individual households.

EXTENT OF BROADBAND COVERAGE IN CANADA

The CRTC reported that, at the end of 2007, 93 percent of Canadian households had access to broadband. A significant gap exists, however; only 81 percent of rural households have broadband access, compared to virtually all households in urban areas.  While all households are within the range of satellite service, existing satellite capacity can provide service to only 1 percent of households.

IMPORTANCE OF BROADBAND ACCESS

Broadband technology provides reliable high-speed internet access for Canadian families and businesses.  Under the terms of the Harper Government’s broadband strategy participating providers will be expected to provide broadband service of at least 1.5 Mbps to currently underserved Canadian households and businesses.

At 1.5 Mbps, a customer can make a voice call over the internet, download an audio CD in seven minutes, and experience video quality streaming/videoconferencing.  Compared to lower speeds such as 256kps, at 1.5Mbps a consumer can use multiple applications at the same time.  For example, a consumer can make a voice over internet phone call at the same time as downloading a document.

Reliable broadband access will also make it easier for Canadians in rural communities to take advantage of distance learning, telehealth, and online business opportunities.  Each of these services is particularly important to those who live in remote areas where local services are limited.

THE PLAN

The Government has just completed a comprehensive survey of Canadian households to determine where the gaps in broadband service are most acute.  This summer the Government will begin accepting applications from potential partners interested in expanding broadband service to these areas.  Final recipients will be selected by December 2009.

The selection process will primarily be based on lowest cost and greatest coverage.  The applicants must be able to demonstrate a capacity to deliver within the timeframe, and to ensure a viable business model.  Other factors will also be considered, including sustainability and future scalability.

>Successful applicants will receive federal support equaling up to 50% of their one-time costs.  Such costs could include the purchase, adaptation or upgrade of equipment, hardware or software, long-term investments in network capacity (such as the lease of satellite transponder capacity), network deployment costs, and other costs directly related to extending broadband infrastructure.

The entire program will adhere to the following design principles:

  • Private sector based application process: the Government will seek proposals balancing lowest federal contribution with availability for maximum number of households.
  • Technical neutrality: All broadband technologies are eligible.
  • Competitive neutrality: Multiple broadband service providers can apply.
  • Multi-jurisdictional coordination: The program complements existing provincial/local initiatives and planned private sector expansion.
  • No ongoing funding: One-time funding will cover the uneconomic portion of up-front infrastructure costs.
  • Sustainability: Applicants must demonstrate that the proposal will be sustainable going forward.

 Source: http://www.actionplan.gc.ca/eng/media.asp?id=1558

Conference Opportunity: Rural Revitalization from Our Forests

Rural Newfoundland & Labrador has an abundance of natural resources. Especially when it comes to our forests. The earliest settlers made their homes from wood. Even pre-confederation, there has been a presence of logging and sawmills. Many fishers after summer season would work in the woods during the fall, cutting for “Bowaters” (later Abitibi-Bowater).

The forest industry in the rural Newfoundland was primarily focused on harvesting and transporting saw logs for pulpwood. Demand for newsprint worldwide declined significantly in recent years, adding pressure to an already troubled industry. The closure of a papermill in Stephenville, NL coupled with Kruger (Corner Brook Pulp and Paper) purchasing supplies from local markets at a lower cost, created turmoil for local logging contractors on the Great Northern Peninsula as their markets were limited.

The industry is overcoming a global recession. Our local market is diversifying. After reading the Northern Pen Newspaper this week, there is an article regarding wood pellets being produced in Roddickton, which are to start at the end of the month. To read the article check out: http://www.northernpen.ca/News/2011-03-14/article-2323632/Roddickton-pellet-plant-production-expected–to-start-by-the-end-of-month/1

There are other opportunities from our forest in terms of non-timber forest products (NTFPs), whether in the form of mushroom harvesting, wreathmaking, mulch production, furniture, eco/agri-tourism, neutraceuticals, value-added products, and community forests. Rural areas need revitalization. A conference on this topic is planned for April 12-15, 2011. See information below:

RURAL REVITALIZATION FROM OUR FORESTS conference, to be held at the Gros Morne Resort in St. Paul’s Newfoundland on April 12-15, 2011. The conference is being hosted by the Local Community Network, a community partnership initiative of the Model Forest of Newfoundland & Labrador’s Forest Communities Program, the RED Ochre Regional Board Inc., NORDIC Economic Development Corporation and the Humber Economic Development Board.

The purpose of the conference is to share knowledge, strategies and tools to assist forest dependent regions adjust to sector transitions in times of economic change. The intent is to bring individuals and organizations together to view our forests with a new perspective and discuss innovative solutions to promote economic growth and sustainability in their communities.

Plan to join us for this exciting event as we hear from:

  • Guest Speakers from across Canada who specialize in Non-Timber Forest Product business and research;
  • Value Added Manufacturers; Community Development Specialists;
  • Government Forestry Officials;
  • Organizations that focus on business development; many more…

Individuals and organizations can contribute to this important initiative in a number of ways, but most importantly through your attendance. If you fit into any of the following categories you may be able to take advantage of some of our special conference offerings.

STUDENT OR COMMUNITY VOLUNTEER: Call today to find out if you qualify for our CONFERENCE SUBSIDIES.
NTFP BUSINESS OWNER: Call and ask how you can attend, participate in out FOREST PRODUCTS TRADE SHOW or DONATE A PRODUCT to be showcased at the event.
POTENTIAL SPONSOR: Review our SPONSORSHIP BROCHURE for the different sponsorship options available. You may receive FREE ADVERTISING, FREE TRADE SHOW BOOTH, FREE CONFERENCE REGISTRATIONS and even the opportunity to PROVIDE A GUEST SPEAKER depending upon the package you choose.

For more information, please contact Kayla by email: kwillis@mfnl.ca or by phone: (709) 637-7300 Ex. 6 and she will be happy to assist you.

Information taken from www.mfnl.ca. Please visit the website for more information or to register for the conference.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore

Rural Regions Face Even Greater Challenges

Newfoundland & Labrador has kilometers and kilometers of beautiful landscapes and coastlines. It boasts three national parks, two world UNESCO sites, first re-discovered by the Vikings (more than 1,000 years ago) and over 5,000 years of inhabitation. We are proud Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, known for our hospitality! An earlier post notes some interesting facts and firsts from our province and people.

The rural economy has an abundance of natural resources including, fish, forests and farms, which all support the urban economy. The success of rural regions and urban economies are interlinked. Infrastructure and services are put in place through local revenues. However, most rural economies are feeling the crunch as revenues decline and cost of services increase. It is no wonder our municipal leaders scratch their heads when it comes to planning for future development. What services will have to be cut to ensure that essential services can be maintained. We see all too often this challenge as we enter small towns and noticed their paved roads are less than acceptable. One will almost get swallowed up in the Town of Flower’s Cove as they drive to the only Bank for service.

However, the reality is – there are less local dollars flowing back into the local economy. The budgets are shrinking and costs are escalating. There are fewer babies in rural Newfoundland & Labrador. Kids are moving away after high school and not choosing to live in rural areas. The baby boomers are getting grey and there is an aging workforce. This presents an evident labour shortage. How can we keep doing more with less? Where is the sustainability? Property taxes can not be increased to meet adherent demands.

No town or community is immune.  Even Minnesota, with more than 800 cities are feeling the crunch as noted in the Youtube video below. With less money we will see parks and trails not mowed and other services cut back, longer wait times for medical and emergency services.

According to this video, the solution is community co-operation:

Everyone participating is the fix – no matter what political strip you are. The right mix of dollars and common sense. So off the fence, we need your talents to find balance. Time to share and be aware and care about unity in our communities. Minnesota is our home, we can’t postpone. We must proceed to think and choose services we need and how to pay.

Individually our communities face these challenges, but together we can gain sustainability. We must work together with our neighbouring communities and regions to plan for a stronger more vibrant tomorrow.

Live Rural NLCCM

Save Our Rural Economies: Traditional Social Values vs. Generation Me

This past week or so I have been participated in Heritage Festival Events & Activities, worked and taken some time to spend with my family. It was a nice change of pace and am now more focused than ever to continue with my frequent blog updates.

While away I picked up a book called “Generation Me” by Jean M. Twenge, Ph. D, which studies what in means to be a young individual in today’s society.  The book cover states, “youth today are confident, assertive, entitled – and more miserable than ever before.” My interest peaked to read about her findings, as I too fall under her category of growing up in the 1970′s, 1980′s and 1990′s.

Youth today certainly have a different mindset and way of thinking. There is now an expectation that we will go to university or college. However, for many rural Newfoundlanders & Labradorians, youth born during these decades will be the first or second generation of their family to attain this level of education. Previously, it was expected one would simply follow in their family footsteps;  a male would enter the fishery during summer and cut logs for Bowaters (to become Abitibi-Bowater, currently in receivership) in winter, as well as many other duties in between. A woman’s role would be mother, housekeeper, educator, family nurse, cook, seamstress, gardener and more. Although, many people of the past did not receive official degrees or apprenticeships from post-secondary institutions, the amount of knowledge, skill and practical common sense they did acquire certainly is to be recognized.

Today, most youth in rural Newfoundland are not choosing to follow in the footsteps of their parents, grandparents and fellow members of the community. Many youth would love to have the ability to remain and Live Rural Newfoundland & Labrador if employment opportunities and adequate level of services existed. The current provincial government is making strides and investing in youth, especially through the Youth Retention & Attraction Strategy, although it is not enough.

There are great challenges in our primary rural industries (fishery & forestry), that even today sustain  rural Newfoundland & Labrador, which are constantly in crisis. The Provincial Government must intervene, working with all stakeholders (this includes the general public). Measures can be taken to stabilize the fishery and forestry, with appropriate planning and action. In relation to the fishery, restrictions are too rigid on time regulations imposed on fisherpeople and improper resource management gluts the marketplace providing poor prices and increases the cost of doing business for both processors and harvesters. It is time to remove the hold of the merchant system that has plagued the fishery and stagnated growth of Newfoundland & Labrador for hundreds of years. Government recently announced millions for studying fisheries science. This is good, but I ask government, where are your millions of dollars to invest in a near billion dollar industry that sustains our rural economies? Change is needed now, work with stakeholders and the public to address our issues.

After reading the Northern Pen newspaper today, it is disheartening that a shrimp processing plant is struggling to provide 130 employees acceptable employment. The domino effect means their families, businesses and communities in the region are also affected as shrimp landed off the coast is being trucked off the peninsula. It is difficult for young people to choose Rural Newfoundland & Labrador in the current climate as a place to live and work. Generation Me suggests that youth want to achieve and be rewarded, reap benefits early in life and maybe even hope to be famous. We were nurtured to believe we can accomplish anything, right? Well even in a challenged rural economy on the Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland, I along with others have hope and optimism. As citizens we can and will achieve, no matter what age the birth certificate states!

As a young person living in Rural Newfoundland,  I ask that we stand up and fight for social justice as I see my neighbours and community members see their incomes eroded, some bankrupt and others forced to re-settle. Generation Me is trying to influence society and we can, but let us not forget about traditional social values that are the fabric of rural Newfoundland and Labrador. Together we must share our experiences, challenges, ideas and work together to bring forth a strong unified voice to The Powers To Be (TPTB) to ensure we can continue to Live Rural Newfoundland  & Labrador.

Let’s Save Our Rural Economy -

CCM

Today, a younger co-worker and I discussed Sociology in Newfoundland & Labrador.

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