We’ve got the power, sometimes
The new year has begun on a discouraging note, with disturbing numbers on impaired driving, a dire school closure prediction, power outages and a rather glum economic development update. On the other hand, all is not lost, because we must remember that we are not totally powerless, most of the time.
For starters, what is wrong with people who still drink and drive? “With the many alternatives available in this day and age, it is alarming and unacceptable that drivers would take such potentially devastating risks,” declared Inspector Mike Mulhearn, the commander of the Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry Ontario Provincial Police detachment. He was reacting to a rise in the number of impaired driving charges laid in the counties over the party season. There were 11 motorists charged during the 2016-2017 Festive Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere (RIDE) campaign in SDG, compared to five in 2015-2016.
Across Ontario, six people were killed in impaired driving-related incidents over the seven-week period. “Over and above these tragic, preventable deaths, many innocent road users were injured in some 270 OPP-investigated collisions during the campaign, in which an impaired driver was a factor,” the OPP reports. No less than 610 drivers, including 22 who were drug- impaired, were charged with impaired driving between November 21, 2016 and January 7, 2017. The dangers of getting behind the wheel after drinking alcohol or consuming illicit drugs are obvious. Apart from being illegal and dangerous, drunk driving has become socially unacceptable. Public awareness campaigns have decreased the carnage caused by impaired motorists. But incredibly, the “Do not drink and drive” message is not heeded by everyone. What is the answer? Peer pressure may help. For example, the “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk” campaign has been hugely successful. This should not have to be repeated, but the OPP is reminding Ontarians that they all have a role to play in ending impaired driving-related deaths. Make a commitment to never drive after consuming alcohol or drugs. If you suspect that someone is driving while impaired, call 9-1-1 to report them to police. You could be saving lives.
In our January 11 edition, we reported that North Glengarry would lose $8.5 million if the Upper Canada District School Board closes Alexandria’s Glengarry District High School and Maxville Public School.
That figure is based on a study that stresses that job losses alone would be brutal. With 25 full-time jobs being eliminated, a sum of $6.9 million would be pulled from the local economy, in addition to a decrease of $750,000 in government payouts. The ripple effect of school consolidation does not stop there.
Retail businesses would see their revenues plunge, and the township’s efforts to attract new residents would be stifled.
The study projects the cost of 20 families leaving the area could be $750,000 out of the area. Imagine the fallout if the school board shuts down all five of the Glengarry schools that are on the chopping block. Gulp. On the other hand, the dark economic projections ought to bolster the arguments advanced by the many who are imploring the school board to heed the “Save Our Schools” entreaty.
Sadly, prayers for a robust, weather-proof electrical network have yet to be answered.
Once again, high winds and freezing rain proved to be a lethal combination for the Hydro One distribution system last week.
About 150,000 customers were affected by power interruptions across the province. Alexandria and Casselman were particularly hard hit Wednesday, with service being interrupted in the early morning and not being restored until late afternoon. Schools and businesses were shut for most of the day in the affected areas.
For future reference, customers looking for information on power outages can call 1-800434-1235 or download the Hydro One power outage app.
Customers can also register to receive proactive personalized texts or email alerts about power outages, and register for Outage Alerts online at HydroOne.com/MyAccount.
Yet, despite all the best efforts of dedicated Hydro workers and the capability of technology, the sad fact remains that Mother Nature always has the final word.
Remember in the wake of the Ice Storm of 1998 when everyone agreed that buried lines were the way to go? Wires tucked away underground would be protected from the forces of nature. But the cost would be exorbitant. Thus, we must live with wires, poles and pieces of equipment that are exposed to the elements. And those elements can be strong, as witnessed by the havoc wreaked by high winds and freezing rain.
In the aftermath of the most recent blackouts, we were reminded that we are now more dependent on electricity than we were in 1998. Tempting as it is, going “off the grid” is not a viable option for most people and business operators. We are hooked on electricity. And there are so many enablers out there, flaunting new energy-reliant devices that promise to make our lives better.
You may think you possess the best ever, totally awesome doo-hickey ever, but, wait, a new improved upgraded version will be available any minute now.
If we do not constantly seek a “smarter” phone or a faster something or other, there is something wrong with us.
While we will never be able to completely sever connections with Hydro One, there are ways to diminish our dependency.
We can reduce our reliance by employing alternative sources of energy. Solar-powered cellphones, anyone? We can cut back on consumption, alter our lifestyles, wear more sweaters, buy more candles. Or we can simply grin and bear it. See? We are not entirely powerless.