Connectivity committee coming
BY SCOTT CARMICHAEL
Staff South Glengarry’s connectivity committee – with a mandate to help procure improved broadband Internet, cellphone and natural gas services for township residents – should be in place before the leaves change colour.
Joanne Haley, the municipality’s General Manager of Community Services, presented the committee’s draft terms of reference to council on Aug. 6, asking that they provide feedback or suggested changes by Aug. 22.
During the recent meeting, Mrs. Haley told council that pending any revisions, she will bring a bylaw to establish the committee in time for the next regular council session on Sept. 3.
According to the draft terms of reference, the committee would consist of seven people – two members of council, two members of the public who reside in or do business in South Glengarry, and three industry professionals with a “thorough understanding of the current Internet and natural gas networks.”
Mrs. Haley explained that the committee has seemingly secured one member already.
“Shauna (Baggs, the township’s economic development and tourism coordinator) reached out specifically to EORN, and Lisa Severson, who agreed to sit on the committee, depending on the dates that it has its meetings,” she said.
Ms. Severson, communications/stakeholder relations officer with the Eastern Ontario Regional Network, along with EORN co-lead Jim Pine, addressed council and administration on June 3, providing an update on the proposed $213 million public-private partnership initiative to improve mobile and Internet services throughout Eastern Ontario announced last June.
As for the connectivity committee, it would meet quarterly, working towards preparing a “work plan” to present to council.
That proposal would “include options and/or next steps regarding high speed Internet and natural gas connections in the township, specifically to areas that are currently underserviced.”
The terms of reference also dictate that once the work plan is completed, the committee will be disbanded, “unless council decides to extend” its mandate.
Councillor Sam McDonell introduced a motion to establish the connectivity committee at the April 15 regular council meeting, stating that inadequate digital and natural gas services are “clearly an issue in the municipality.”