Proposed broadband-cellular service moves to next stage of approval process

MELDRUM BAY—A representative of the Dawson Citizens’ Improvement Association (DCIA) is a little more optimistic that a request made locally for the establishment of broadband-cellular services in the area of Burpee-Mills west to service providers, has reached the next stage of becoming a reality.

“I was talking to Morry Brown of NetCentral, and he has been talking to Bell and Rogers (who would provide the service) and there is apparently some interest on their part,” Dale VanEvery told the Recorder on Monday.

Mr. VanEvery explained, “the next step is for this to now go to the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, concerning possible funding for the towers to be put up to provide this broadband-cellular service.”

“The main thing is we would like people to know that since our meeting in April, this issue hasn’t been forgotten, it is progressing and looks favourable,” said Mr. VanEvery.

In April the DCIA held a meeting with Robinson Township, Burpee-Mills, Sheshegwaning First Nation representatives and Morry Brown, general manager of NetCentral Community Communications Network.

“One of the things that has to be considered is to how many people visit the Island and the West End of the Island,” Mr. VanEvery explained at the April meeting. “If we don’t have cell-broadband service they will not come here. We depend on tourism for the whole of Manitoulin Island and this has to be part of the equation for us.”

Safety was another concern Mr. Van Every brought up, noting that when the power went out on March 1 in Dawson and Robinson, no one could get help unless they had a standby phone. He pointed out the area has an aged population, “so this is a safety thing in getting emergency services and help in cases like this.”

“It’s now a waiting game. We’ll have to see where things go from here, but we are optimistic,” Mr. VanEvery told the Recorder on Monday, noting Mr. Brown did not provide any indication of when the ministry will be announcing a decision on whether funding will be provided for the project.

“We certainly need the cell phone service,” stated Mr. Van Every, who acknowledged the tremendous support provided by local First Nations and municipalities in lobbying for this service to become a reality.