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Letters to the Editor

Readers about old friends, the Ashcroft Slough, and rural Internet access

Dear Editor,

Reading the obituary about Norma Jean Goff (the Journal, Oct. 22) prompted a beautiful memory of that gracious soul. I met Norma Jean and husband Don at Ashcroft Bakery more than 10 years ago. Don was an amusing storyteller. I fell in love with them both and arranged to interview them in their home on Government Street in Ashcroft.

Their lives in the Upper Hat Creek valley, where they raised their family and made long-lasting friends, were worthy of a book. Still, I managed to hear their story about establishing a home in the valley that is still remote from the mainstream of community life. Don drove school bus for years, between Hat Creek and Ashcroft. I can imagine how entertaining he would have been on that rather lengthy trip. Winter driving must have been a challenge. But the pioneer spirit was alive and well, even years after those early pioneers made homes and built ranches there.

Believe me, Hat Creek valley was pretty remote and empty when I discovered the valley in the 1970s. I wrote in an article that it was so quiet, the grasshoppers sounded like helicopters. The Parkes, Pockocks, Schneiders, and other families, including Norma and Don, fashioned lives that might be envied today.

Norma helped make the famous Hat Creek mincemeat that the Upper Hat Creek Women’s Institute produced and sold every year. The mincemeat filled many tarts and pies for Christmas for many of us. No other mincemeat would compare with it.

The spirit of mutual friendship, respect, and regard for each family’s contribution to life in the Hat Creek valley still endures in the memory of all who experienced it. Resilient, hardworking, and infinitely hospitable, I think of what a privilege it was for me to have known some of them. They left a legacy and an example to all.

Esther Darlington

Ashcroft, B.C.

Dear Editor,

I am on the Board of Directors for the Ashcroft Slough Society, and what I express is shared by other members of the executive.

The Ashcroft Slough Society supports the expansion of the Ashcroft Terminal trans-loading and logistics hub. Comprehensive studies show that inland ports contribute to supply chain efficiencies.

We support the inland port unequivocally, but not unconditionally.

We believe that economic development and employment opportunities can co-exist with environmental stewardship and community well-being. It is not necessary, nor desirable, to compromise the livability and enjoyment of our town for the prosperity of private corporations, those mainly being CN, CP, and PSA International.

The Ashcroft Slough parkland has no industrial, commercial, or residential value as it floods annually and cannot support any infrastructure. But it does have significant cultural, recreational, educational, social, artistic, ecological, and geological value for both locals and visitors, and adds economic potential to the area.

We call on the Ashcroft Terminal to re-evaluate the role that safe, legal pedestrian access to the Ashcroft Slough can play in building a strong, viable community. The benefits to a plan that embraces the public sharing this space, rather than excluding them from accessing it, are profound.

Gloria Mertens

Ashcroft, B.C.

Dear Editor,

Poor Internet speed in rural communities is not a new problem. But now, in 2020 COVID-19 times, as entire families are trying to work, learn, and socialize from home, the problem is difficult to ignore.

Slow, inconsistent rural WiFi service is incapable of supporting commonly used video conferencing media such as Zoom and Skype. These tools are not only helpful for working remotely, but also used to combat loneliness while socially isolating.

In rural communities, fixed-wireless connection is a common Internet setup. This type of connection offers a cost-effective solution for residents, businesses, and Internet service providers in rural areas because it doesn’t require the installation of wires and cables to each home.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has created a $750-million fund to partner with companies to close the digital divide between fast-WiFi urban regions and slow-WiFi rural regions. They plan for this five-year project to be completed in 2021

The goal is to give everyone in Canada access to the Internet with speeds of 50 megabits (Mbps) per second for downloads and 10 Mbps for uploads.

Like they did with the telephone in the 20th century, the Canadian government recently acknowledged that Internet access is an essential service. All levels of government should act aggressively to help rural communities upgrade their network infrastructure.

According to the CRTC, today roughly 41 per cent of rural Canadian households have access to a broadband Internet connection, which is more reliable than fixed-wireless connection. Provincial and federal governments subsidize a few affordable Internet plans for low-income families, including the Connecting Families program and Telus’s Internet for Good, but these programs are limited in who can access them. Canadians in rural communities need broader support in times like these.

The Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon Green Party hosts regular “Talking Green” online conversation events using Zoom video conferencing. Our MP Brad Vis is championing rural WiFi in Ottawa and will discuss this issue with us at our “Talking Green” event on Monday, Nov. 23 at 7:30 p.m. Email Nicole (nicole.bellay@greenparty.ca) for the Zoom access link and join us. Everyone is welcome!

Dave Gory

Ashcroft, B.C.


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