Gore Bay council gives approval to investigate potential opportunities for broadband upgrades in town

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GORE BAY – Gore Bay council has passed a motion to have a local resident investigate potential opportunities for fibre optic broadband funding upgrades in town.  

“As we all know, with the pandemic many people are working from home, and people in places like Gore Bay are suffering because of the additional demand on the system, and those that provide these services have no plans to upgrade at this point,” said Gore Bay resident Mike Addison, general manager of LAMBAC at a recent Gore Bay general government meeting. “I sit on the board for the Blue Sky Network and they previously had put out a request for proposals to 22 vendors to see if there was interest in upgrading services on Manitoulin.” Only one company put their name forward, but it would mean communities would own the system and have to maintain it. 

Mr. Addison pointed out that a report had been presented by Blue Sky at a Manitoulin Municipal Association (MMA) meeting this fall. “When Susan (Church, executive director of Blue Sky Net) made the presentation at the MMA meeting, she talked about the work that has been carried out in the past to upgrade services on the Island.”

The Blue Sky report also looked at the present broadband services provided on the Island, and it described the gaps in service communities on the Island face.  

“It was obvious from the report that Gore Bay is the most suitable place on the Island for an upgrade in broadband expansion,” stated Mr. Addison. “We have a fairly high density populated area and Eastlink, Bell and Vianet already provide some services in town, and we might be able to do an expansion project in Gore Bay.”

After the MMA meeting, Mr. Addison had been contacted by Gore Bay Mayor Dan Osborne as to whether there could be something done to improve the broadband services in town.  

Mr. Addison the requested of the town for permission to act on its behalf to investigate costing on this, which service providers may be interested, and funding sources the town could access. 

A recommendation had been passed by the committee for Mr. Addison to look into all of this and report back to the town.

“I’ll find out what the costs would be, and how big of an area we could look at improvement of the services, who would be interested in providing the services, and funding sources, and bring this back to council,” Mr. Addison told the Recorder. He pointed out it could involve both fibre and wireless services.

He said that if something is developed for Gore Bay, he could look at doing this for other communities within the LAMBAC area. “When vendors were asked if they would be interested in providing these services Island-wide, they indicated they weren’t interested, but if we start with one spot they may be.”

Mr. Addison noted there are different funding programs out there, and there could be more, but he doubts any would provide 100 percent of the costs involved. He will report back to council his findings once his research is complete.