Cutting the cord on expensive cable

If you hate your cable and internet bill, keep reading this article.
Cable and Internet can set you back $100 to $200 every month. Luckily you have some alternatives, particularly for cable. The problem of course is that there are only two major providers. All the smaller cable and internet providers use Rogers and Bell infrastructure so that there is not a lot of competition. It really comes down to a having two private companies with a shared protected monopoly. This explains the lack of service when you call them for anything. It also explains the movement of people that call themselves “cordcutters”.
“Cordcutters” are people that got tired of the high fees and poor customer service and looked for ways around streaming content.
There are options out there. For starters, pick-and-pay cable is finally coming to Canada. The Federal agency that oversees the cable industry gave all cable companies until March of 2016 to provide a new service. Starting in two months all cable companies will have to provide the following new items:
• “basic” bundles for $25
• all channels not included in the basic package are to be offered in small packages or individually
You want the sports channels, but not the other 200 odd channels that come with it? You will have more options now with traditional cable companies. However, this is not the solution for everyone. For many, maybe cable TV does not offer all you need so many people have now switched to internet media streamers.
You can get a lot of content directly to your TV through a media streamer connected to the internet. Through the box you can search for content, order a TV series, download movies, etc. There are dozens of models, but they come in two basic forms: paid boxes and free boxes.
The most popular paid boxes are Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV. While they provide access to some free programming, they largely depend on consumers ordering content services like Netflix, Amazon, Cineplex, NHL Gamecentre Live, VUDU, etc. Apple TV on the other hand has limited options to free content. The boxes range from about $100.00 and ordering the services you want as opposed to a package with 300 channels you don’t watch can save you some money.
The free programming based boxes also offer access to some of the same paid content, but they also offer alternatives to watch some of the same shows and live events without having to fork over the money. Some of the most common alternative media streamers are Xbox, PS4, Android TV and Chromecast. These range widely in price. They can go from $50 to $500. Depending on what you need and your budget, you may not need to pay for any services after you buy the hardware but you need a good internet connection.
The last method may be the easiest and most economical to set up. It provides you with up to two dozen high definition channel, requires only a one time purchase and installation and requires no monthly payments of any kind, internet or cable. Your trusted old antenna is not your grandparent’s antenna any more. By law, all major TV broadcasters now have to provide HD TV over the airwaves. In Downsview a good antenna can get you up to 26 channels from Canada and the US.
Have you cut the cord yet?
For more information and resources you can go here:

Paris Climate Conference a big deal for Downsview

The terrorist attacks in Paris a couple months back were tragic and a stark in contrast to the Climate Change Conference that occurred in the same City, not long after. Paris is a long way of, but the Conference will have big effects on us all. I am writing this before the start of the Conference and the internet and the media are abuzz with expectations. Where other efforts have failed to get agreements, here success seems possible.

Climate change is real and its consequences are felt worldwide, even in Downsview. We are luckier than other places, but not all of us. If you ever wondered why we get more basement flooding cases now than 20 years ago, then part of the reason is because we get more rain and more “big rain days” now than ever before. The aging infrastructure does not help, but the reason why the issue reoccurs is the higher big rainfall numbers. In other places higher rainfalls and raising sea levels are drowning out people from their homes. In other places instead of higher rainfall there is draught.

What conference means to us in Downsview is hard to know just yet. The goal of the conference is to have a binding agreement on climate for all the countries in the world that will prevent temperatures from raising above 2 C of pre-industrial levels. Basically, they mean to set up rules on green gas pollution that will prevent global warming from getting to the point of no return.

Canada is doing some of that already. Alberta (oil producing Alberta!) has just announced major environmental changes to reduce carbon emissions and is leading the pack. Even Conservative led Saskatchewan announced that they are moving towards 50% renewable energy production by 2030.

To the average person it may mean that over the next year some things will not be the same. Electric cars may be more affordable. Fixing your house to make it energy efficient will be cheaper. More neighbours will have solar panels. More of our food will be produced closer to home. Similar to the introduction of recycling, people may not like it at first, but we will wonder how we did things before once it happens.

I will leave the readers with a little local inspiration. We can all make a difference or at least try. Some Blacksmith Public School students noted two years ago that Tim Horton’s cups are not recyclable (none of them are, they have a waxy covering that makes them garbage, the thing that prevents you from being burned). They then put on a video that our local Councillor played at City Hall in order to push a motion to move towards recycling the cups. The motion won, but the City is still trying to figure this out. Check out the link:

Holiday shopping weary? Try these ideas

Last time I went to Yorkdale Mall it took 35 minutes to find a parking spot and I then had to walk a kilometre to the store from where we parked, while pushing through crowds. Not fun. If you are looking for a different type of shopping experience, you can try this: buy local or buy Canadian.

When you buy from a local store, you are helping a local business owner, but you are also avoiding the big crunch of holiday shoppers at the big stores. You also can find new things. And you can also get better deals.

When you buy Canadian online, you are not only saving money because the Canadian loonie is not what it used to be, but you get your products faster too. Also, Canadians make cool things.

Here is a handy list of places where you can find something unique for him or her, something you needed, something you did not need, but had to have. Do you know of a place to add to this list? Send us an email at

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