November 22, 2021 6:00am
A North Kent councillor is hoping that the municipality can do more to make bidding for high-speed internet in rural areas more attainable for local providers.
Councillor Jamie McGrail will make a motion at Monday night’s meeting asking council to address the province’s new procurement process to connect more than 300,000 homes in unserved and underserved areas.
“High-speed internet is an essential necessity,” said McGrail. “We have farmers in rural areas who run businesses and need that connection. I am trying to get as far as I can get with it.”
McGrail wants the mayor to send a letter to the Minister of Infrastructure asking the province to pause the procurement process until it encompasses all internet providers.
“They have taken Southwestern Ontario and broke it down into lots,” said McGrail. “I believe we have a lot in Chatham-Kent that has a $50 million dollar starting price. That’s not attainable or competitive. The only companies who will bid on a lot like that are the big companies.”
McGrail said every lot has a bid and the prices need to be adjusted so it will give competitive prices for local providers.
“We want to change the lot sizes,” said McGrail. “There are areas in Chatham-Kent that have high-speed internet. We want to make sure the province eliminates the areas that already have the target speed.”
While many homes in Chatham-Kent have access to high-speed internet, McGrail said there are still areas with poor service.
“We’re making progress but we do have a ways to go,” said McGrail. “I believe a partnership with the province and tweaking this a little bit, we can get this done.”