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