David Hinks – looking at connectivity in Mississippi Mills

What’s love got to do with it?

At our regularly scheduled Tuesday meeting of the Community and Economic Development Committee, we had a comprehensive and comprehensible briefing from MM2020, the folks that are trying to bring broadband internet to Clayton and Pakenham and the surrounding rural areas.

The committees in place in these communities have really done their homework! A huge amount of effort has been put into surveying residents. A very high proportion of respondents are very unsatisfied with their current level of service. And this is where thwarted romance comes into it. One frustrated resident reports that his girlfriend refuses to move in with him due to the very poor internet service available at his home!

One result from the surveys that is astonishing to me is that the surveys in both communities found that 38 per cent of respondents do some level of telecommuting and an amazing 28 per cent operate a home business. What the committees found was a litany of frustration; inability to attend on-line meetings, difficulty in downloading documents and the list goes on and on. No wonder we see so many people working at their laptops at our libraries and coffee shops.

The Community and Economic Development Committee and our municipality have stepped up to the extent of allocating $15,000 for the community committees to hire the expertise to develop a business case.

I believe that this issue must be given a very high priority by our incoming council. Connectivity is a key for the establishment and growth of home-based business. It’s also very important for high-tech farmers who need access to satellite data for the most efficient management of their inputs. It’s a necessary ingredient to ensure that our rural neighbours enjoy access to the same opportunities as our urban neighbours.

I believe that there are many avenues that have not been sufficiently explored, the possibility of a public-private partnership for example. As your Deputy Mayor, I’ll make this one of my top priorities.

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