Proposal made for Puslinch high speed internet committee

ABERFOYLE – Glenn James believes the time is now for Puslinch to bring high speed internet service to Puslinch residents.

In a presentation to councillors on July 17, the resident said he wanted to address a motion proposed on the agenda relating to the creation of a local committee to accelerate bringing high-speed internet infrastructure to Puslinch.

The resolution also mentioned appointing a Puslinch representative to a county steering committee.

James said he and his wife have been township residents for the past 30 years.

The recently retired IT business founder and manager said he does not have a lot of experience in telecommunications, but he has become familiar with the history of the SWIFT (Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology) project and the Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN).

“Like a lot of other folks, both locally and across the country, I am quite frustrated with the lack of availability of high speed internet in rural areas,” James said.

“While the situation is getting better, it is very gradual.”

He said a community high speed internet committee would help accelerate the deployment of infrastructure to residents and businesses in Puslinch.

He also believed a committee would provide a voice to the community regarding its need for high-speed internet.

In addition, he hopes such an approach would create the opportunity to make an application to SWIFT.

He wanted to ensure the SWIFT request for proposals is set up to encourage private companies to invest locally.

James also said is important to have a local representative at the county level.

“It is also important that we also look beyond SWIFT,” he said, suggesting it is possible the results of the SWIFT RFP may not benefit local residents.

“We hope it will, but it is possible it won’t … so we are going to have to look longer term.”

James suggested a local committee could be comprised of five members, including a member or observer from township council.

“We are not tied to a specific number of representatives at this point,” he said.

He later added, “I think council’s support of this committee would be beneficial and provide it with credibility.”

James told council he would be pleased to lead the formation of the Puslinch committee and also to represent Puslinch on the planned Wellington County high speed internet steering committee.

Councillor Ken Roth considered this “a welcome initiative and you certainly have my support. Anything we can do to increase access to high speed internet is just so important for everyone – not just tech people.”

Councillor Matthew Bulmer thanked James for sharing documents related to high speed internet proposals in other areas of the province.

Bulmer asked how James viewed a newly formed committee acting as a catalyst.

James said, “It’s a good question and it’s safe to say I don’t have all the answers.”

He added having good committee members will helped generate those answers.

“Part of what we could do, is work on an informal level with the now 32 telecommunication providers on SWIFT’s list to determine their perspective on investments made – and not made – locally,” he said.

James suggested “in a lot of cases telecommunication companies are torn between so many pieces of geography.”

He said, “if these companies understood the groundswell of desire for better service at affordable rates in Puslinch they might be more amenable to making an investment.”

He noted one of the frustrations is that Puslinch lies “only a few kilometres away from great internet service.”