County com­mits to fund­ing to close cell gap

The Peterborough Examiner - - Local - JA­SON BAIN Ex­am­iner Staff Writer ja­son.bain@pe­ter­bor­ough­daily.com

Peter­bor­ough County coun­cil com­mit­ted thou­sands of dol­lars to con­tin­u­ing ef­forts to im­prove cell­phone and broad­band in­ter­net ser­vice in east­ern On­tario Wed­nes­day fol­low­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion by East­ern On­tario Re­gional Net­work (EORN) CEO David Fell.

Be­fore ask­ing coun­cil­lors for fund­ing, he high­lighted the suc­cess of the pri­vate-pub­lic part­ner­ship’s pre­vi­ous project com­pleted in 2015. Cov­er­age was greatly im­proved along High­way 7 and to­wards Keene, for ex­am­ple.

Since then, there has been some $100 mil­lion in new in­vest­ment in East­ern On­tario.

“We think you got a great re­turn on that in­vest­ment,” he said.

The net­work is propos­ing a

$213 mil­lion project to ex­tend mo­bile broad­band ser­vices to east­ern On­tario by im­prov­ing cell net­works by clos­ing cov­er­age gaps and in­creas­ing ca­pac­ity. Some 18 per cent of res­i­dents have no cov­er­age, while 16 per cent are ser­viced by a lone provider.

On­tario has com­mit­ted $71 mil­lion to the ef­fort as part of the pro­vin­cial bud­get and the net­work is con­fi­dent the fed­eral gov­ern­ment will pro­vide fund­ing this fall, Fell said.

The county be­came the sev­enth mu­nic­i­pal­ity to get on board of 13 that will be asked as Fell con­tin­ues a tour. The for­mula for pay­ment re­quested by the net­work is de­vised by weight­ing each by area and pop­u­la­tion, Fell ex­plained.

Coun­cil­lors ul­ti­mately ap­proved con­tribut­ing $40,000 for its share of a tech­ni­cal and eco­nomic gap anal­y­sis study, funded from the con­tin­gency ex­pense in the 2018 bud­get.

They also com­mit­ted to fund­ing in the range of $672,000 to $930,000 in 2019 from the gen­eral work­ing funds re­serve to be re­paid to the re­serve in equal in­stal­ments from 2020 to 2026 – at the rec­om­men­da­tion of fi­nance di­rec­tor/trea­surer Trena DeBruijn.

“This is im­por­tant to all of us,” Coun. J. Mur­ray Jones said be­fore cre­at­ing the mo­tion to ap­prove the rec­om­men­da­tion, which car­ried unan­i­mously.

Off-road ve­hi­cle by­law re­viewed

The pos­si­bil­ity of al­low­ing off-road ve­hi­cles on some parts of county roads will once again be dis­cussed by county coun­cil­lors late next month after a mo­tion to add one link of sev­eral re­cently re­quested by a lo­cal club was sim­ply tabled Wed­nes­day.

Pub­lic works di­rec­tor Chris Bradley rec­om­mended the by­law be amended to in­clude the north side of County Road 42 from County Road 30 to Bel­mont Con­ces­sion 10, one of sev­eral routes re­quested by the Peter­bor­ough County Trails ATV Club last month.

In short, he ap­plied cri­te­ria es­tab­lished by coun­cil sev­eral years ago to the re­quest, but sev­eral of the routes fall out­side of that cri­te­ria, coun­cil heard.

Coun­cil­lors then dis­cussed the pos­si­bil­ity of try­ing all routes the club sug­gested for a one-year trial pe­riod, but that prompted con­cerns about risk and li­a­bil­ity.

CAO Troy Speck re­minded coun­cil­lors that pass­ing a by­law to boost eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment doesn’t ab­solve them from ad­dress­ing li­a­bil­ity con­cerns.

The rec­om­men­da­tion was ul­ti­mately tabled un­til coun­cil’s last meet­ing in June, so a lawyer can of­fer ad­vice and staff can gather more in­for­ma­tion.

JA­SON BAIN/EX­AM­INER

East­ern On­tario Re­gional Net­work CEO David Fell ad­dresses Peter­bor­ough County coun­cil­lors about the cell gap project on Wed­nes­day.

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