This month’s ice storm in Hope brought out the best in the people of our community. Unfortunately it also brought to the forefront the fact that we are living in an information black hole. As far as the media is concerned, Hope barely exists.
For the better part of three days many of us had only spotty Hydro service and no Internet connectivity at all. The only thing we could rely on for information was a broadcast outlet 50 km away more focused on providing us with the latest tune from the talent du jour than any substantial information on what our community needed to carry on. As far as the ‘news’ organizations in Vancouver go, we are simply not even on the map.
It is also disappointing that once we were ‘back on the grid,’ even this esteemed publication placed any story about the ice storm behind a pay-wall, giving full access to subscribers only.
Many people relied on Facebook via their smart phones to exchange updates, but this is hardly a reasonable substitute for those who choose not to use Facebook or for people who are not online.
What Hope needs is a community radio station. Such an outlet, harkening back to the days of the 1240 khz AM version of CKGO, staffed by volunteers, would be dedicated to the community at large. It should provide local news and promote our area of the Fraser Valley and its services. When disaster strikes, such as the ice storm, the people will have a voice to turn to with not only eyewitness reports, but also a targeted source of up to the minute news and information. At other times, visitors to our town could find out about local events. The benefits there are incredible in that it can lead to increased revenue for our local businesses.
Community radio in Hope can reflect and promote our cultural diversity and enrich said culture by broadcasting local content related to social, economic and community issues. This is more important than playing the latest from Nicki Minaj or Demi Lovato. The benefits are tangible. I urge the district to explore this and then present a proposal to the CRTC to get us on the air as in the days when we had our own local radio station, beholden to the people and not some faceless corporation where the only goal is profit.
Anthony G. Pavick