‘A lot of passion’
BY SCOTT CARMICHAEL
Staff South Glengarry township will likely form a connectivity committee aimed at procuring improved broadband Internet, cellphone and natural gas services for residents soon, despite initial objections from the municipality’s economic development officer and tourism promotions coordinator.
“There’s a lot of passion in certain areas and I completely understand where they’re coming from,” Shauna Baggs said at the July 15 regular council meeting. “But there are people already working on this file, and to have an additional committee in the township, it would kind of be a duplication.”
Mrs. Baggs prepared an information report regarding the creation of a connectivity committee.
The report had at least one councillor scratching his head. “I read this before the meeting and I wasn’t sure where you were going with it,” said Councillor Martin Lang. “I know you’ve explained it a little bit, but we passed a resolution...to form a connectivity committee. But you’re kind of saying...that we shouldn’t have this kind of committee, that it’s a waste of time.” Mrs. Baggs pointed out that representatives from the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus (EOWC) and the Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) were meeting “every two weeks...with various levels of provincial ministers and different people to make sure that everybody’s voice is being heard,” and that since upper-tier government funding “flows through them,” it made more sense for those organizations to be the point people in ongoing connectivity-based negotiations.
“With plans currently in progress through EOWC and EORN, it is the recommendation of administration that the township continues to work together through council and administration while continuing to pool the resources and expertise of outside organizations to meet the needs of local residents to advance connectivity,” she stated in her report. However,
after hearing further feedback from council, Mrs. Baggs later had a change of heart. “All right, I totally agree,” she said, following comments from Deputy-Mayor Lyle Warden regarding the need to have such a negotiating body speaking on behalf of township residents. “I think it’s important to have (a committee).” In April, council determined that one of the committee’s primary mandates would be to lobby upper levels of government for funding. DeputyMayor Warden echoed those sentiments at last week’s meeting. “The committee’s purpose could be lobbying, or writing letters, to the Ontario Energy Board (regarding natural gas service), in addition to the Wardens’ Caucus,” he said.
“The more people that write and lobby, the better results, I think.” Taking into account that Councillor Sam McDonell and Mrs. Baggs had previously discussed connectivity-related matters between themselves, Mayor Frank Prevost suggested that the two “have a chat...and maybe come up with some type of working committee, sometime in the near future, if you can.”