One policy does not suit all


Once again, our daytime high in Chatham-Kent will be well above 0C. But, according to Cogeco, the ground’s frozen. In fact, it has been since early November.


Man, do I hate the influence of big-city, absentee know-it-alls.

Bear with me, as I’m heading off on a bit of a tangent. I choose small-town Ontario living over existing in a bigger city. I prefer the relaxed pace, friendly faces, helpful neighbours and clean air to the crush of humanity, gridlock and ridiculous real estate prices. If I want to experience the city, I’ll head over the bridge into Detroit, catch whatever culture I desire, and slip home.

It’s kind of like renting a city’s best elements, while avoiding the worst. And it’s called tourism.

Cityfolk do it all the time — heading to their cottages, campgrounds or casinos.

Small-town and big city can interact. Many of us are interchangeable. We do, however, generally have our preferences.

But I digress. I was talking about big-city know-it-alls. I’ve written about this for years, actually, as whichever party sits in power at Queen’s Park eventually (some sooner than later, right Dalton?) develop a form of myopia. They cannot see past the urban sprawl.

The result? Cookie cutter policies that pander to urbanites and often all but ignore rural and northern Ontario. It can be frustrating as hell as these policies — whether it’s for education, health care or economic development — regularly leave rural Ontario short on funding.

Then again, we shouldn’t be surprised. Political parties like being in power. Holding office very often trumps doing what’s best for the region one governs. And in terms of urban centres, that’s where the votes are.

For companies such as Cogeco, that’s where the dense client base is. And with “dense” I don’t mean stupid, but rather large numbers. Cogeco has its head office in Montreal, and its Ontario office in Burlington: cityfolk, and people who live in much cooler climes than we do in the banana belt.

Hence my dilemma. We have Bell Internet. We’re on the edge of town; the edge of that company’s hub. Data streams our way in kilobytes not megabytes, despite paying the full DSL rate.

I contacted Cogeco in early November to switch over. It was a Wednesday, and they said a technician could be there “between 8 a.m. and noon” two days later. And at 8 a.m. on that Friday, he was outside our door. That’s great customer service.

I explained we no longer had a cable line running into the house, as we’d had satellite TV for more than a decade. But we tracked down the line, he ran cable into the house and then went to connect it to the outside line: no signal.

The cable guy said he’d let the company know they had to replace the old line, as it was broken/cut somewhere between the box two houses and three driveways over and our house. He said it would likely take a couple of weeks for them to process it, but he’d try to put a rush on it so it could be done before the ground froze.

Well, I called Cogeco a week or so ago, during a warm spell (not that many of our days have seen full-day sub-zero temperatures) to inquire about the order and was told it would be done about eight weeks after spring thaw.

“The ground’s frozen,” the voice from Burlington said.

“Uhh, I live almost as far south as northern California. The ground here isn’t frozen,” I replied.”

“No, it’s frozen. We aren’t doing any digging until spring.”

Such is life, with people having policies in place based on where they exist rather than looking at this huge province as having much different weather patterns from end to end.

So Cogeco won’t dig in phantom frozen ground. That’s a big-city, remote company for you.

But guys working at a local company such as Tony Matteis — The Cement Specialist will cater to Chatham-Kent customers, pouring concrete until the ground really is too cold to allow the cement to set properly.

Those guys know their market. Cogeco, in this case, doesn’t.

I still plan on using cable Internet. The local guy was, not surprisingly, great to deal with. He knows his market. We’ll just have to wait another six months or so for somebody several hundred kilometres away to determine that the ground has thawed. By then, I’ll be drinking margaritas in a chair by the pond, sporting shorts and a T-shirt — perfect attire for a “spring thaw.”


  1. I really detest stupid people like that, You can really tell that education really didn’t sink in during their Geography classes. It really is unfortunate that these people can’t look past their own noses, and see the bigger picture of the world we live in. This story really proves that you just because you have a post secondary education to get a “good paying job” doesn’t mean you have to be able to use it.

    You figure that with the capitol funding and technology that a company like Cogeco has, they could put rods in the ground near their repair outlets in the different cities and towns to get an actual measurement of whether the ground is actually frozen or not. We live in the age of technology, these things are possible. The Oceans have been measured for temperature and currents for decades now, why not the ground for “is it frozen or not”. Especially for a company that most of the major repairs they have to do are underground. You figure that it would be a great tool for them to have rather than lay people off un-necessarily because someone in the upper regions of this great country of ours looks outside his window and sees three feet of snow on the ground.

    I know you would have laughed your rear end off if the guy would have told you that they can’t dig the cable into the ground to the three feet required by code because there was a wash out on the mountain and there wasn’t three feet between the grass and the crust of the rocks.


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