High-speed program’s slow progress concerns TBM councillor

·2 min read

The Blue Mountains Councillor Rob Sampson is concerned about the slow pace of a provincial program meant to get high-speed internet services in the ground.

At council’s committee of the whole meeting on Sept. 13, Sampson expressed his concerns about the pace of the Accelerated High Speed Internet Program. At the meeting, CAO Shawn Everitt delivered a report updating council about the program.

Everitt told council that the province has awarded the contract for Block 51 (which includes The Blue Mountains and portions of Grey Highlands and Meaford) to Rogers Communications.

“Rogers was the successful bidder for Block 51,” said Everitt. “We’re looking forward to that engagement to understand Rogers’ plan for increasing internet services, particularly in the rural areas.”

The provincial program expects municipalities to respond quickly to the firms that have been awarded the contract for high-speed services. For example, a municipality is required to respond within 10 days to a request for a right-of-way permit for a project that is less than 30 km. For a project over 30 km, the response is expected within 15 days.

Sampson called the program “heavy-handed” and “one-sided.”

“Bill 109 says when a tele-communications company calls you have to jump and ask, 'how high?'” he said.

Sampson advocated the town continue its Rural Access to Broadband Internet Task Force (RABIT) to monitor the high-speed program.

“A significant amount of money has been awarded and not one centimetre of wire is in the ground,” he said. “The whole thing is a bit of a mess.”

Everitt said the town has reached out to Rogers and noted that some of the delays are outside the control of the town at the service providers.

“One of the biggest issues this program is going to run into is (utility) locates. We’re in a holding pattern to understand what the Rogers plan is,” said Everitt.

Before any project that requires digging, a contractor must contact Ontario One Call to set up a utility locate.

Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca