Two western municipalities opt out of community-owned fibre infrastructure proposal


EVANSVILLE – Both councils for the townships of Gordon/Barrie Island and Burpee and Mills have decided not to support or participate in the Municipality of Huron Shore Manitoulin Island community-owned fibre infrastructure (H&MI COFI) proposal. 

Gordon/Barrie Island council, at a meeting last week, rejected a request to provide its support toward H&M COFI. “We had a Zoom meeting, as part of our regular council meeting from Georges Bilodeau of H&M COFI and two representatives from the company trying to get this going,” said Lee Hayden, reeve of Gordon/Barrie Island. “The bottom line is that council decided to opt out of the township supporting the project at this time.”

Reeve Hayden explained, “in the maps that they provided at the meeting, it doesn’t show coverage for Barrie Island. We looked at the infrastructure plans and the costs involved and opted out.” 

“And Starlink is making leaps and bounds around the Island in providing satellite coverage, in terms of the service and costs,” said Reeve Hayden. “I’m not sure how other companies can compete with them in terms of the service and cost provided.”

“Mr. Bilodeau and his group have asked us for our support of the project in the past, and we turned them down then,” said Ken Noland, reeve of Burpee and Mills township, at a regular council meeting held recently. 

“I doubt we will ever get fibreoptics in Elizabeth Bay,” stated Councillor Marty Ainslie. “And we could never afford the cost to support it.”

“It would be far too expensive to have fibre in rural areas,” said Councillor Penny Palonen. “I think the cost is based on a kilometre rate, and from what I’ve seen the costs would be unreal.”  

“That is unless there is funding to support this,” said Councillor Ainslie. “At some point they would need funds from the municipalities to be part of this?” 

Yes, that would be the case, and partners would be part of the company, Reeve Noland confirmed.

“I don’t see this happening in this area,” stated Councillor Ainslie. “I don’t know what we would gain.” 

“I’m very lukewarm on all of this. I don’t see how it could ever be put in place here,” said Councillor Art Hayden.

It would need a highly populated area, not small rural areas, said Councillor Ainslie.

“I don’t think we should be part of this proposal, at this time,” stated Councillor Wayne Bailey.