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Changes to smooth and speed up talks with internet providers in PEC

In a bid to speed up the process of getting more and better internet service in Prince Edward County, council is being asked to approve replacing the need for public meetings with mail-outs when planning to erect new communication towers and streamline staff time in discussion.

“The process that occurs today when an Internet Service Provider (ISP) approaches the municipality on the establishment, improvement or expansion of broadband internet infrastructure is fraught with complexity and confusion,” said Todd Davis, director of community services, programs and initiatives in his report to committee of the whole, Thursday.

Currently, Davis noted, multiple departments are accessed for contact, consultation, direction, assessment, approval and contracts. Staff suggests a primary “concierge” contact.

“Without a single point of contact and a diversity of departments engaged that have different priorities municipal response to potential internet infrastructure developers suffers. Further, these process challenges often push timelines that can jeopardize the potential success of a project within the current
funding regime.”

Examination to improve the process, he noted, unfurled outdated municipal bylaws, some contrary to regulatory guidelines.

Locations and regulatory requirements for communication towers are governed by Industry Canada. The municipality had also included extensive public notice and meetings for residents to submit concerns. The proposed change is to remove the need for a public meeting and align notification with Industry Canada standards to notify affected residents by mail.

A standard Municipal Access Agreement (MAA) for ISPs is based on a template originally created by the CRTC and tailored to municipalities. It includes fees and charges, permits and relocation costs.

“For example, should Bell Canada wish to enter into an MAA for wireless technology to be placed
throughout the municipality on utility poles and towers, the fees and permits that may be required would vary significantly than if Bell Canada were to propose that they would like to lay fiber alongside roadways or under existing roadways. In 2014, a
similar version of this MAA was utilized to negotiate an Agreement between Cogeco and the municipality.”

Using a standard MAA, Davis notes, would create a consistent framework for ISP projects to be reviewed, vetted and costed by the concierge team for “a more efficient, effective and transparent processing of applications”.

Councillor at committee of the whole Thursday, were in agreement with clarifications of the process. It comes to council’s next meeting for approval.


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