City council is being asked to spend nearly $260,000 over the next 10 years to connect Cornwall to a massive broadband network.
A report to council that will be discussed at length Monday night at city hall details a financial commitment the city is being asked to make to the Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) – an internet hub that is being created to increase bandwidth and connectivity for businesses and residents in this part of the province.
There has already been more than 5,000 km of fibre optic cable laid throughout the region to create a network that will allow more people living in rural communities to connect to high-speed internet, while also creating infrastructure for increased bandwidth.
Bandwidth demands are increasing by as much as 38 per cent a year Jim Pine, co-lead of EORN, told city councillors earlier this year.
"Now is the time for a decision on this," Pine said. "The demand for bandwidth is exploding."
Pine sat alongside SD and G Warden Ian MacLeod during a presentation to council in July. The United Counties have already pledged $1 million towards the EORN project.
Pine said should the city decide to pledge towards the project, it will open possibilities to connect to its massive new network - including prospective tenants in Cornwall's industrial park. Pine argued new businesses are looking for increased access to more bandwidth.
Pine noted the $258,000 commitment being asked of the city is “modest” compared to the provincial and federal governments that have already spent $55 million on the project, while the private sector has ponied up another $50 million.
A report by city senior development officer Bob Peters suggests the city needs to spend the money in order to remain competitive with other municipalities that wish to attract business.
“Several of the city’s largest companies and organizations were approached to determine the level of need for hi-speed services,” reads Peters’ report. “The response from the local business community was clear: companies and organizations are relying more and more on data communications, and demand for bandwidth is increasing steadily (estimated to increase fivefold over five years).”
Many city councillors have already suggested the money will be spent.
"It's important that we partner with the counties," said Coun. Andre Rivette told his colleagues when the issue first came to council.