A Smiths Falls business owner told town councillors on May 23 that continued lack of high speed internet access to the town’s Hershey Drive industrial park threaten to make her company “no longer relevant or competitive.”
In a presentation to council’s Committee of the Whole, Isabelle Graveline of Kilmarnock Enterprise told councillors that plans to bring fibre optic cable to Hershey Drive are currently in limbo after a Cogeco proposal to install cable above ground on poles was rejected by town officials.
Citing studies that show that “slow internet connections cost employees one week per year in productivity,” Graveline said the lack of high speed access has been “a major impediment to our growth.”
Town Chief Administrative Officer Malcolm Morris told councillors that the town’s official plan requires fibre optic lines to be installed underground. Above-ground lines, he said, are susceptible to weather, “and exceptionally expensive to fix.”
“Looking forward we need to do whatever we can to make this happen,” – Chris Cummings
However, Morris added, the ground below the industrial park is very rocky, making it expensive to bury cable at that location. The expense has caused Cogeco to put its plans to install the infrastructure on hold.
Morris said the town’s Director of Public Works and Utilities, Troy Dunlop, is working with Cogeco “to find an underground installation option that is not prohibitively expensive.” The suggested option, he said, is to install the lines along the gravel shoulder of the road.
Councillor Chris Cummings, noting that the bank he works for “couldn’t exist” without high speed internet access, stated that, “Looking forward we need to do whatever we can to make this happen.”