Coun­ties coun­cil ral­lies be­hind cell­phone pro­ject

Vision (Canada) - - News - GREGG CHAMBERLAIN gregg.chamberlain@eap.on.ca

All of Eas­tern On­ta­rio is get­ting be­hind to sup­port a pro­ject to close up holes in the re­gio­nal cell­phone com­mu­ni­ca­tions net­work.

The Eas­tern On­ta­rio War­dens Cau­cus (EOWC) has gi­ven top prio­ri­ty to sup­port for the Eas­tern On­ta­rio Re­gio­nal Net­work’s (EORN) pro­ject, which aims to im­prove cel­lu­lar phone ser­vice in the re­gion. The Uni­ted Coun­ties of Pres­cott-Rus­sell coun­cil (UCPR) vo­ted una­ni­mous sup­port, du­ring its Ja­nua­ry 24 ses­sion, for both the pro­ject and for the EOWC as the spea­rhead for the re­gio­nal lob­by poin­ting at the pro­vin­cial and fe­de­ral go­vern­ments.

“The num­ber one prio­ri­ty for this year is the cel­lu­lar gap pro­ject,” said Sté­phane Pa­ri­sien, UCPR ad­mi­nis­tra­tor, in a ver­bal re­port to the coun­ties coun­cil on the 2018 inau­gu­ral mee­ting of the EOWC.

The EORN Cel­lu­lar and Pu­blic Sa­fe­ty Broad­band Net­work pro­ject (CPSBN) seeks to eli­mi­nate “dead zones” for cel­lu­lar phone ser­vice in Eas­tern On­ta­rio. These “dead zones” can ham­per eco­no­mic de­ve­lop­ment Une meilleure cou­ver­ture des ser­vices de té­lé­pho­nie cel­lu­laire dans la ré­gion de­meure une prio­ri­té éco­no­mique des pré­si­dents de com­tés de l’Est on­ta­rien membres de l’Eas­tern On­ta­rio War­dens Cau­cus. L’or­ga­nisme ré­gio­nal veut éli­mi­ner les « zones mortes » du ser­vice cel­lu­laire, qui en­travent le dé­ve­lop­pe­ment éco­no­mique.— for some mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ties in Eas­tern On­ta­rio, dis­cou­ra­ging in­ves­tors from consi­de­ring an area for pro­jects.

The cell gap is al­so iden­ti­fied as one of the rea­sons for lo­cal youth to leave an area af­ter gra­dua­tion in quest of high-paying jobs as well as a place to live that sup­ports an on­line li­fe­style. “That (cell gap) is a de­triment, and quite a hurdle, in main­tai­ning our youth here,” said Pa­ri­sien.

The pro­ject al­so seeks to ex­pand the pu­blic sa­fe­ty as­pect of cell­phone ser­vice by ope­ning the exis­ting emer­gen­cy cel­lu­lar ser­vice band avai­lable for po­lice de­part­ments. Such ex­pan­sion would make it avai­lable for re­gio­nal fire de­part­ments and am­bu­lance ser­vices.

EORN and the EOWC seek a pri­vate-pu­blic part­ner­ship for the $213 mil­lion cel­lu­lar gap pro­ject, with in­vest­ment in cash or in kind co­ming from se­nior and lo­cal le­vels of go­vern­ment and the pri­vate sec­tor. The pro­ject will al­so build on the suc­cess of EORN’s ori­gi­nal broad­band ex­pan­sion pro­ject for Eas­tern On­ta­rio, which re­sul­ted in al­most com­plete high-speed In­ter­net avai­la­bi­li­ty throu­ghout the re­gion.

The EOWC pre­sen­ted the cell gap pro­ject to Pre­mier Wynne, ca­bi­net mi­nis­ters and se­nior pro­vin­cial go­vern­ment of­fi­cials du­ring the Ru­ral On­ta­rio Mu­ni­ci­pal As­so­cia­tion (RO­MA) confe­rence in To­ron­to, over the Ja­nua­ry 21 wee­kend. “Eve­ryone said it was a ve­ry good pre­sen­ta­tion,” said War­den Fran­çois St-Amour. “The fu­ture is all wi­re­less.”

Pa­ri­sien no­ted that pro­vin­cial of­fi­cials made no pro­mises, but he ex­pres­sed hope that the cell gap pro­ject might be consi­de­red for ca­pi­tal fun­ding in this year’s pro­vin­cial bud­get.

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